Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has signed a Gulf Cooperation Council-sponsored agreement to transfer power to his vice president as part of a transition to democracy. Vice President Abdo Rabu Mansour al-Hadi has named opposition leader Mohammed Basindwa as the new prime minister. Vice President Hadi formerly announced the new government December 7. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the agreement "a significant step forward for the Yemeni people in their quest for a united, democratic, secure, and prosperous Yemen."
Vice President Hadi also announced that presidential elections will be held February 21, 2012, bringing an end to President Saleh's 33-year rule. Under the GCC plan Mr. Saleh retains some presidential powers until that election. "This monumental agreement," said Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman for Yemen's Embassy in Washington, "will hopefully bring an end to the ten-month long turmoil in the homeland."
Yemen is or was the site of the Arab Spring's longest popular uprising where protesters camped in tent cities and attended mass rallies every Friday since February 2011. There have been clashes between pro- and anti-government forces as well as clashes with government security forces throughout the crisis.
The United States urges all parties within Yemen to refrain from violence and to move quickly to implement the terms of the agreement in good faith and with transparency – including credible presidential elections within 90 days. The United States, in coordination with its international partners, will continue to closely monitor and support Yemen's political transition.
The United States looks forward to strengthening its partnership with the Yemeni people and their new government as they address their political, economic, humanitarian, and security challenges.