A Yemeni boy holds up a sign during a rally demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taizz on April 29, 2011.
Source: Press TV
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has backtracked on an Arab-brokered deal that would require him to step down in exchange for legal immunity.
Saleh said on Saturday that he would not sign the deal mediated by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC), the Associated Press cited his close ally Abed al-Jundi as saying.
The deal had been scheduled to be signed in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on Sunday.
The decision surfaced while (P)GCC Secretary General Abdul Latif Al Zayani was in the Yemeni capital Sana'a to urge Saleh to sign the deal he had earlier said he agreed with in principle.
According to Jundi, Saleh refused to sign the agreement, saying it should be signed by the leader of his political party, the General People's Congress.
Saleh also wanted assurances that he would remain in power during a 30-day transition period after signing the deal.
Opposition leader Mohammed Basnadwa said the opposition had told the Arab mediator that they would not agree to any deal unless Saleh signed it first.
Meanwhile, clashes broke out on Saturday in the southern port city of Aden, where Saleh loyalists, backed by tanks and heavy weapons, pushed out hundreds of demonstrators from a square they had been camping in for about two months.
Four demonstrators were shot dead and several others suffered bullet wounds in the incident, Yemeni activists said.
In addition, hundreds of people held a demonstration near Sana'a University, which has been the hub of anti-regime protests in Yemen.
Saleh, a close ally of the United States, has been facing massive protests demanding that he step down after three decades in power.