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Yemen Leader Again Refuses To Resign

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has again refused to sign a deal to step down, prolonging the crisis in the Arabian Peninsula country over demands by protesters that he end his nearly 33-year rule.

Saleh on May 22 declined at the last minute to sign the Gulf Arab and U.S.-backed accord, which would have given him immunity from prosecution if he resigned within 30 days.

State-run Yemeni television said he would only sign in the presence of opposition leaders, who had signed the agreement on May 21.

It is the third time that Saleh has backed out from putting his signature to an accord aimed at ending the unrest in Yemen in which more than 170 protesters are reported to have been killed by Saleh's security forces.

In response to Saleh's refusal to sign, the Gulf Cooperation Council bloc said it was suspending its initiative to mediate in the Yemen crisis because of what it called a "a lack of suitable conditions."

U.S., European and Arab ambassadors who were trying to act as mediators in the crisis were trapped for hours on May 22 in the United Arab Emirates' Embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa by armed supporters of Saleh. The diplomats were later evacuated by helicopter.

compiled from agency reports