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Under Pressure, Yemen’s Saleh Signs Deal to End 33-Year Rule

November 23, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

JEFFREY BROWN: Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed a statement today agreeing to resign, ending 33 years of authoritarian rule. Gulf state allies pressured Saleh and brokered the deal. Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has seen nine months of protests. The signing took place in Saudi Arabia, where Saleh fled seeking medical treatment after an assassination attempt last June.

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH, President of Yemen (through translator): We welcome the sharing of power with our brothers in the opposition to rule the country and rebuild what the crisis has damaged. The signing is not important. What is important is the good intention and the steering of serious work toward a real sharing to rebuild what the crisis has damaged.

RAY SUAREZ: Saleh will transfer power to his vice president within 30 days, and, in exchange, will be granted immunity from prosecution. Yemen has long been a base for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and the Saleh government has been a quiet U.S. ally in the war on terror.

In Washington, President Obama issued a statement welcoming the Yemen accord.