Tens of thousands of people demonstrated Sunday in Sanaa, demanding the execution of Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh and protesting against the law granting him immunity. The Yemeni Parliament on Saturday granted to Saleh “total immunity against any legal or judicial action.”
It also endorsed the candidacy of Vice President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi in the presidential election, scheduled Feb. 21 in the country, which in the past year was rocked by unrest that left hundreds dead. Hadi is the only candidate for a two-year interim term.
“No immunity at the expense of our blood,” read a banner brandished by the demonstrators, who tried to head to the U.S. embassy in Sanaa before being stopped by security forces .
The parliament amended the bill granting immunity to Saleh and his aides, based on an agreement signed to end the internal crisis. Under the new law, aides of Saleh, in power for 33 years and accused by protesters of corruption and nepotism, enjoy immunity “for politically motivated acts, performed in the exercise of their official duties.” However, immunity “does not apply to terrorist acts.”
The UN envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, criticized Saturday night that law, emphasizing the right of “victims” to hold Saleh regime accountable. “The law was amended (…) but remains below our expectations. The UN has a principled stand against this kind of absolute immunity,” he said during a press conference.
He called to enact “a law on justice and reconciliation” that would allow “victims to claim compensation.”