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Yemeni President Rebuffs Departure Demands


A supporter of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh holds up posters of Saleh after a rally to show support at the Tahrir Square in Sana'a, March 25, 2011

A supporter of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh holds up posters of Saleh after a rally to show support at the Tahrir Square in Sana'a, March 25, 2011

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is rebuffing opposition calls for his immediate departure, despite reports that a deal on his resignation could be imminent.

The state-run SABA news agency quotes Saleh as saying his legitimate authority is "steadfast" and stable in the face of challenges. During a speech to sheikhs and local officials in Sana'a on Saturday, he said representatives of his government are "steadfast like mountains" and would not be affected by events.

In a speech Friday, said he was prepared to hand over power only to what he described as "safe hands." He said it is not his wish to continue as Yemen's ruler, but that he is not willing to cede control to "sick, resentful or corrupt" people.

The state news agency reported that Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi had disavowed and denied earlier reports that quoted him as saying an agreement on President Saleh's departure could be complete as early as Saturday.

Anti-government protesters are continuing to crowd the streets of Yemen, calling for an end to Mr. Saleh's 32-year rule.

Opponents of President Saleh have been pressing ahead with rallies despite a newly imposed state of emergency that gives security forces sweeping arrest powers.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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