Yemen Vice President and acting leader Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi presented Thursday a new plan to end the political deadlock and unrest that has shaken the country, Reuters reports.
But the plan would extend the tenure of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has infuriated tens of thousands of Yemenis by hanging on to power despite international pressure and six months of protests against his 33-year rule.
A deal brokered by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council that would have seen Saleh resign 30 days after signing it fell through three times when he backed out at the last minute, leaving the country in political limbo.
An opposition leader said Hadi, who is at the helm while Saleh recovers in Riyadh after a botched assassination attempt, had approached the opposition with an alternative to the GCC initiative.
"The essence of these ideas is to begin the transitional period by forming one national government led by the opposition and changing the date of presidential elections from 60 days to a longer period, without transferring power completely to the vice president," said an opposition leader who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity after meeting with Hadi.
The new plan is a step backward for the opposition, which had hoped Saleh's time was up when he left the country to get medical treatment after a bomb exploded in his presidential palace. But while veteran leaders in Egypt and Tunisia have bowed to popular demands they quit, Saleh has proved a dogged political survivor.
When the opposition leader insisted the transitional period could not begin until Saleh resigned, Hadi said Saleh would not resign. Observers say such an offer is likely to be rejected.
A speech recorded by Saleh, who has not been seen since the attack, will be broadcast either on Thursday night or Friday, Al Arabiya television cited Yemeni government officials as saying. Messages have not materialized after previous such reports.
Meanwhile, 10 soldiers were killed in South Yemen where the army is struggling to secure roads leading to the crucial Red Sea port of Aden while contending with Al Qaeda and allied tribal fighters who have openly seized several towns.