President Ali Abdullah Saleh, signed an agreement on Wednesday, relinquishing power to his vice president, Abed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi, with immediate effect.
The agreement, facilitated by Saudi Arabia and supported by the US, will signal the end of Saleh's 33 year rule of Yemen, following months of protests.
The agreement allows Saleh many face-saving measures, including the retention of his title and certain privileges until new elections are held in three months. It also grants him immunity from prosecution.
Many of the youth activists who led recent protests have criticised the agreement as an elitist pact. Highlighting the immunity offered, youth activists warned that the protesters, who demand adequate investigation and justice for the deaths of fellow demonstrators, would not be placated.
Last month, youth activists wrote a letter to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, demanding that Saleh be referred to the International Criminal Court for the crimes committed by his military.
The letter addressed to UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon said,
"We call on the UN to refer Saleh, his sons and his gang to the International Criminal Court for their crimes against peaceful protesters."
In a statement, US President Barack Obama said,
“The United States welcomes President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s decision to transfer executive powers immediately to the Vice President in accordance with the agreement.”
"The Yemeni people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future.”
See previous articles:Yemeni youth urge UN to take Saleh to the ICC (02 Oct 2011)
Saleh demands guarantees before resigning (20 Oct 2011)
Pressure on Saleh increases (02 Oct 2011)