By Stephen Kaufman
IIP Staff Writer
23 November 2011
The signing of a Yemeni political agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) brings the Yemeni people significantly closer to realizing their aspirations “for a new beginning” in their country, President Obama said.
In a November 23 statement, Obama welcomed the agreement between the Yemeni government and its political opposition that includes the transfer of executive authority from outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh. It also requires Yemen to form a national unity government within 14 days and to hold presidential elections to replace Saleh within 90 days.
“This represents an important step forward for the Yemeni people, who deserve the opportunity to determine their own future,” Obama said.
The president praised the Yemeni people for “courageously and steadfastly” voicing their demands for political change over the past six months despite facing “violence and extreme hardship.”
He urged all parties to immediately implement the terms of the GCC agreement and pledged that the United States will “stand by the Yemeni people as they embark on this historic transition.”
The State Department’s deputy spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters in Washington November 23 that the political initiative in Yemen had been led by its neighbors in the GCC, and he commended the organization for its role and for its support for the Yemeni people.
The United States “provided support throughout the process,” including regular consultations with both Yemen’s government and its opposition, he said.
“We believe that this provides a way for Yemen out of this crisis,” Toner said. “[W]e’re under no illusions. Yemen still faces significant challenges and cannot achieve security, stability and unity before there’s a full transfer of power.”
He said the GCC agreement will allow “a peaceful and orderly transition of power that is responsive to the aspirations of the Yemeni people,” and it marks “a significant step forward for the Yemeni people in their quest for a unified, democratic, secure and prosperous country.”
Toner also urged all sides in Yemen to refrain from violence and to swiftly implement the agreement “in good faith and with transparency,” including holding credible presidential elections within 90 days.