Though Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh finally put pen to paper and signed a power transfer earlier today that would have him handing over his power to Major General Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the exact direction that transfer will take remains to be seen.
What we do know is that under the terms of the deal, Saleh will retain his title for at least 90 days, and will be immune from any prosecution for the violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters across the nation. Hadi will have all practical power during that period, and will be the “unanimous” choice for the next president afterwards. Under the deal, the opposition will be allowed to select a prime minister.
But the distribution of power under this system as well as how free the elections will be afterwards are both unclear. The current system of government was based around a president with virtually limitless power and a parliament that was loyal to him, but the opposition is unlikely to tolerate an unchecked president and likewise won’t be nearly so friendly toward the outgoing ruling party.
Protesters are already critical of the deal with Saleh, saying he shouldn’t have been able to escape prosecution. Saleh himself was likewise critical of his own deal, saying his removal from power should’ve been “more smooth and democratic.” Though only elected to two seven year terms in office (both under disputed circumstances), Saleh has ruled for over 33 years, mostly as an unelected military dictator.
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