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Power-transfer deal inked for Yemen, sanctions loom over Syria

(Xinhua)

13:45, November 27, 2011

SANNA/DAMASCUS, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Yemen regained sorts of stability Saturday after President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed a Gulf-brokered deal to transfer power, while the Syrian government was under mounting pressure as the Arab League (AL) proposed economic sanctions.

Saleh arrived in Sanaa Saturday evening after a three-day trip to Saudi Arabia, where he signed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative to transfer power, the official state news agency Saba reported.

The president also got a medical check-up in Riyadh after sustaining injuries from a bomb attack in June on his Sanaa residence, according to a government official.

Saleh's return was announced hours after Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi issued a decree, declaring Feb. 21, 2012 as the date for the early presidential elections in line with the GCC initiative.

"Based on the UN-backed Gulf Cooperation Council initiative and its implementation mechanism, which both were signed in Riyadh on Nov. 23, we call for early presidential elections to be held on Feb. 21 next year to elect a new president for the country," a decree issued by Hadi said.

It added that "no party has the right to annul or change the date."

Under the GCC deal, Saleh handed over power to his deputy Hadi on Wednesday in return for immunity from prosecution, which was rejected by some angry protesters.

Witnesses and residents in Yemen's southern restive province of Taiz said heavy clashes between the government troops and opposition armed tribesmen flared up immediately after the state media announced Saleh's return to Sanaa. No casualties have been reported yet.

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