Yemen’s embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, said Saturday that he accepted a proposal by Arab mediators that would shift power to his deputy 30 days from the signing of a formal agreement and grant him and his family, who occupy key positions in Yemen’s security apparatus, immunity from prosecution.
Mr. Saleh is a wily political survivor, and it was unclear whether his offer to step down was a real attempt to calm the political turmoil and growing demonstrations that have rocked his country for months or a way to shift blame for a stalemate to the opposition. His offer follows days of unrelenting pressure to step aside from Saudi Arabia and other neighboring states fearful of more instability in the region.
The president’s announcement set off a flurry of political maneuvering and meetings, but by the end of the night, it was far from clear that it would end the deadlock and ease him from power after 32 years of autocratic rule.
The agreement would require the opposition to halt the street protests and to take part in a coalition with Mr. Saleh’s ruling party. The opposition’s leader, Yassin Saeed Noman, said his coalition accepted the agreement in principle, but rejected those conditions, preferring to allow Mr. Saleh’s party to govern until he resigns and then join a power-sharing government. Mr. Noman also said the opposition lacked the power to force protesters from the streets.