Saleh had previously refused to stand down despite street protests
A young supporter of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh (portrait) sits watching during a rally in support of his regime in Sanaa. Saleh arrived unexpectedly in Riyadh early Wednesday for the signing of a Gulf-sponsored power-transfer deal, an official told AFP. © Mohammed Huwais - AFP/File
Saleh had previously refused to stand down despite street protests
Last updated: November 23, 2011

Yemen president in Riyadh to sign transition deal

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah signed a deal on Wednesday to hand over his powers after 33 years in office which Saudi King Abdullah hailed as marking a "new page" in the impoverished country's history.

Live footage of the ceremony aired by Saudi state television showed Saleh ink the Gulf- and UN-brokered agreement in Riyadh's Al-Yamama royal palace watched over by members of the Yemeni opposition as well as King Abdullah and Gulf foreign ministers.

Representatives of Yemen's ruling party and the opposition also signed the deal which is intended to end 10 months of deadly violence.

Under the agreement, which Saleh had stalled for months in defiance of intense domestic and international pressure, the veteran leader will his hand powers to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and his family, although he will remain honorary president for 90 days.

"Today a new page in your history begins," the Saudi king told the Yemeni delegations as they signed the deal.

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