Yemen's Saleh Refuses To Sign Exit Deal

A deal to remove Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh looked doomed on Sunday after he refused to sign, raising the threat of more instability in the Arab state.

The pact would have made Saleh, a shrewd political survivor who has been in power for 33 years, the third ruler ousted by a wave of pro-democracy uprisings sweeping the Arab world. He had been due to sign the deal on Saturday.

Yemen's opposition, furious over the last-minute change of heart that it described as political maneuvering, said it was considering escalating pressure on the president to step aside after three months of street protests demanding he go.

"We are studying the options of escalations and waiting for a U.S.-European stance on Saleh's refusal to sign," a senior opposition leader told Reuters, declining to be named because no formal decision had been taken.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait -- who brokered the plan looked no closer to easing Saleh out, ending a meeting over the crisis in Riyadh on Sunday without a deal or an announced strategy for reaching one.

"The council expresses its hope of removing all the obstacles that still block a final agreement, and its Secretary General will head to Sanaa for that purpose," a statement by GCC foreign ministers said.

The United States and neighboring oil giant Saudi Arabia want the Yemen standoff resolved to avert chaos that could make a Yemen wing of al Qaeda a greater threat to the region.
Al Jazeera