Yemen's Saleh says he will step down in coming days

October 8, 2011 22:45

SANAA - Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Saturday he would step down in "the coming days" after months of protests against his 33-year rule that risked tipping the dirt-poor country into civil war, but the government said his exit was not imminent.

"I reject power and I will continue to reject it, and I will be leaving power in the coming days," Saleh said in a speech on state television.

Opponents were skeptical of the wily political survivor who has backed out of a Gulf-brokered power transition plan three times this year.

They argue the speech is a maneuver to ease pressure ahead of a briefing to the UN Security Council by UN Yemen envoy Jamal Benomar, who left Sanaa empty-handed after days of shuttle diplomacy between the opposition and the ruling party.

Saleh's comments were as vague as others he has made about stepping down and were seen by Yemenis as yet another ruse by a leader who has spent the "Arab Spring" -- pro-democracy uprisings across the region -- saying he is about to quit.

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