23 May 2011

Gulf states suspend Yemen negotiation efforts

11:03 am on 23 May 2011

Diplomats from Arab Gulf states have suspended efforts to mediate in Yemens political crisis after President Ali Abdullah Saleh again declined to sign a deal that would ease him out of power.

President Saleh has already twice backed out of signing the deal to end three months of protests against his rule.

The deal brokered by Arab and Western diplomats would have given him immunity from prosecution in exchange for his agreement to stand down within 30 days.

Armed Yemeni government loyalists trapped diplomats inside the embassy on Sunday to block the signing.

The envoys were later airlifted out of the UAE embassy compound.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) bloc of Yemen's wealthy oil-exporting neighbours that spearheaded the deal later said it was suspending the plan due to a "lack of suitable conditions".

Separately, tens of thousands of anti-Saleh activists demonstrated in the city, calling on the president to leave immediately.

More than 170 protesters have been killed in a crackdown on demonstrations, part of the wave of uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East that swept aside the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.