|Schools are used by ex-government soldiers who defected to the opposition during protests against the president [AFP]
Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, Yemen’s vice-president, will sign a Gulf Arab initiative to arrange for a transfer of power in Yemen “within a week”, a high-level Saudi official has told reporters.
The comments were made public on Sunday, a day after thousands of protesters stormed the main university in the nation’s capital, Sanaa, preventing the first day of school and calling for an end to the current regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh.
On Monday, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh authorised Hadi to negotiate a power transfer with the opposition. Saleh left the country three months ago for Saudi Arabia where he has been
recovering from a June 3 attack on his presidential compound.
“Within a week, the vice president will sign the Gulf Initiative in the name of the president,” said the Saudi official, who requested anonymity.
The so-called Gulf Initiative was proposed by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and sets the path for a peaceful transition of power from Saleh, who has ruled Yemen since 1978.
According to the Saudi official, “among the guarantees demanded by Salah are that his son be kept in the next government”.
Saleh has since January faced protests over nepotism and corruption from reform activists inspired by the Arab Spring.
At least six student were injured when thousands of anti-government protesters stormed Yemen’s main university on Saturday.
“No studying, no teaching until the president goes,” the students chanted as they marched into the Sanaa university campus, which is has been the centre of Yemen’s opposition movement.
The protesters shut the doors of administrative buildings and tore down pictures of Saleh in the dean’s offices.
Around the capital, at least 20 other schools were kept closed to students on Saturday because many of the buildings are being used as outposts by government-linked gunmen and soldiers who defected to the opposition, said Fatma Mutahar, principal of Ayesha School in Sanaa and an official with the Education Ministry.
“Schools are for learning, not to serve as barracks,” said Mutahar, who tried to negotiate with the gunmen to leave her school but failed.
Ayesha School is situated in Sanaa’s city centre, near the front line between anti-Saleh tribesmen and loyalist security forces who have been locked in a bloody standoff since May.
“I won’t let my children go to school after seeing the gunmen inside,” said Mohammed Nasser, a father of five.
Some students didn’t seem to mind.
More than 60 schools in the southern city of Aden are being used as shelters for people displaced by fighting between government troops and Islamic groups which have taken over several towns during Yemen’s turmoil.