Yemen's long-serving autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh will relinquish office in a month's time under a deal that saves him from possible prosecution in the future.
The deal brokered by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council could end a violent anti-government protest that has killed more than 100 people so far. The deal came days after a botched UN summit aimed at resolving the Yemeni crisis.
Even as the embattled president decided to step down sooner than he was pitching for, his followers observed a 'Reconciliation Friday'. The protesters observed Friday as the 'Last Chance Friday'.
Saleh had offered the protesters several concessions since crisis erupted in February. He had also offered not to seek another term in 2013, but none of this was enough to appease the people.
After announcing his decision to step down, Saleh spoke defiantly, accusing his opponents of dragging the country into a civil war. He also said the protesters engaged in acts of riots and sabotage.
The opposition accepted Saleh's offer to step down, but insisted they still had some reservations.
Last week UN Security Council called on Yemenis "to exercise restraint and to enter into a comprehensive dialogue to realize the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people."
Though Saleh had initially dismissed any talk of stepping down, a gradual waning of international support weakened him. The United States, which had long regarded him as a strategic ally against al-Qaeda terrorist groups in the region, recently suggested that it would favor Saleh's departure.
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