Yemen said on Saturday it was ready to “deal positively” with a U.N. Security Council resolution urging the government to sign an agreement that would require President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down in exchange for immunity.
“The Yemeni government is willing to deal positively with U.N. Security Council resolution 2014 as it conforms with [our]efforts to put an end to the political crisis on the basis of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative,” an official source said in a statement obtained by Reuters.
Under a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative, Saleh must step down within 30 days of signing the deal handing him and his family immunity from prosecution, a controversial component of the transition plan.
Saleh has backed down three times from signing the Gulf initiative and handing power over to his deputy, Vice President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Meanwhile, at least five people were killed in fierce clashes which began at dawn on Saturday and continued nonstop in the Yemeni capital between troops loyal to President Saleh and rival forces, a day after the U.N. urged the embattled leader to hand over power.
Witnesses and AFP correspondents in Sanaa said explosions were heard throughout Sanaa and massive plumes of smoke and fire were seen rising from several neighbourhoods where opposition forces are stationed.
Al Arabiya correspondent who described Sana’a as a “ghost town” said that artillery shelling pounded a Yemeni army division in al-Hasba neighborhood and that random shelling caused some civilian deaths.
An AFP correspondent said ambulances were seen racing out of the Hasaba district that is home to tribal chief sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar and his brothers, whose armed tribesmen have been battling Saleh's troops for weeks.
In the Change Square area, where thousands of protesters have been camped out calling for Saleh to quit, fierce clashes erupted between government troops and defected soldiers loyal to dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar.
Mohsen and Sadeq, former staunch allies of Saleh, are now his arch-rivals, each having thrown their support behind the nationwide protests which have triggered the political crisis sweeping Yemen.
Saturday’s violence came a day after the U.N. Security council unanimously passed a resolution that "strongly" condemns the deadly government attacks on demonstrators and backs a Gulf plan for Saleh to step down.
Several hundred people have been killed since the protests against Saleh erupted in late January.