SANAA, Yemen (AP) - President Ali Abdullah Saleh made vague comments Saturday that he is willing to leave power in his first major speech since returning Yemen, but he gave no concrete plan for the future of the country. Yemen's opposition cast doubt that the embattled leader was serious.
It was not the first time Saleh has expressed a willingness to step down amid eight months of mass protests demanding his ouster. Still, he has repeatedly refused to resign immediately and rejected a U.S.-backed deal for him to hand over his authority.
Saleh was gravely wounded in an explosion at his presidential palace in June, after which he left to Saudi Arabia for treatment. During his absence, mediators and opposition groups sought to convince him to stay away and transfer power to his deputy- a way to launch the regional power transfer deal. Saleh declined and returned abruptly to Yemen late last month.
A violent crackdown against Saleh's opponents followed, with outright street battles in the capital Sanaa between troops loyal to Saleh's son Ahmed and dissident military units and pro-opposition tribesmen. In the meantime, the longtime leader has come under a considerable pressure from the international community to step down.
His new declaration Saturday aired on state TV gave little clue to his intentions.