Yemeni opposition leaders said their demand for President Ali Abdullah Saleh's immediate resignation must be met before they agree to the Gulf Co-operation Council's (GCC) initiative to end the political crisis.
In a meeting Sunday (April 10th), the foreign ministers of the GCC countries invited the Yemeni government and the nation's opposition parties to Saudi Arabia to find a solution to the current political crisis.
Current proposals focus on Saleh transferring authority to his deputy and on forming a national unity government chaired by the opposition. According to the proposed terms, the new government would have the right to form committees, manage political, security and economic affairs, write a new constitution and hold elections.
No specific date for a transfer of authority was mentioned in the GCC proposal.
Saleh recently offered to step down in January 2012, but the opposition is holding firm to an immediate departure demand. His current term expires in 2013.
A statement issued by the foreign ministers emphasised the need for a secure transfer of power that will prevent Yemen from descending into violence. Gulf negotiators asked that all parties commit to ending the existing political tension and to meet public expectations.
"In light of the violations that occurred -- leaving many victims either dead or wounded -- [Saleh's] resignation is unavoidable," said Mohammed Qahtan, official spokesperson for the Joint Meeting Parties, a coalition of Yemen's main opposition groups.
Qahtan told Al-Shorfa that the opposition has assured that if the president resigns immediately, they will guarantee that he and his family will not be prosecuted. Qahtan said the opposition parties will announce their position after they receive the official GCC initiative.
Sultan al-Atwani, a member of the Supreme Council for the Joint Meeting Parties, told Al-Shorfa that the opposition is committed to the GCC's first initiative, which was announced on April 3rd. The initiative stipulated that Saleh depart immediately and hand over power to his deputy Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi.
"Any initiative that does not guarantee the immediate resignation of the president is unacceptable," al-Atwani said. "Departure might be the price to pay for the blood that was spilled."
Saleh reportedly welcomed the efforts of the GCC to solve the current crisis in Yemen.
According to an official statement issued by Saleh's office published by Saba Monday, the president expressed no reservations about a peaceful transfer of power that meets constitutional standards.
"The Republic of Yemen will deal positively with [the GCC initiative] as a basis for dialogue which will spare Yemen the afflictions of chaos, destruction and disruption of security, public order and social peace," the statement read.
Tariq al-Shami, official spokesperson for the ruling Congress Party, told Al-Shorfa, "The GCC initiative is welcome because it guarantees unity and stability for Yemen and ensures a smooth and peaceful transfer of power through dialogue that is in accordance with the constitution."
He hoped that "the opposition will respond to reason in dealing with this initiative, especially because it will remove tension and will serve the interests of the Yemeni people".
"The negotiating table will be the decisive platform where obstacles will be overcome," he added.
The Youth of the Revolution rejected the GCC initiative because it did not include the immediate departure for "Saleh and his regime," according to a statement issued Monday by the Organisational Committee for the Popular Youth Revolution in Sanaa.
"The initiative is unacceptable," committee member Abdel Salam al-Khatib told Al-Shorfa.
"It does not meet the demands of young activists in many ways, especially the immediate departure of the president and his relatives, their trial and a trial of all individuals involved in the murders that were committed against peaceful protesters."