Yemen's Saleh holds out on signing of Gulf deal

'The president refuses to sign'

SANAA - Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh is refusing to sign a Gulf-brokered power-transfer plan, demanding clarification on "mechanisms" for its implementation, a ruling party member said on Sunday.
"The president refuses to sign until an agreement is reached on mechanisms to implement" the deal that would see him out of office in 30 days, said General People's Congress head Sultan al-Barakani.
Meanwhile, gunmen loyal to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Sunday encircled the Emirati embassy in Sanaa as it hosted Western ambassadors and the head of a Gulf mediation bid, a diplomat said.
Among the diplomats are the ambassadors of Britain, the European Union and the United States, as well as Gulf Cooperation Council chief Abdullatif al-Zayani, the diplomat said.
They gathered at the embassy awaiting a decision from Saleh on signing a Gulf-brokered deal by which he would leave office in 30 days.
Meanwhile, Members of the opposition said an anti-regime protester was killed by pro-regime "thugs" who had blocked roads in Sanaa as hundreds of thousands of Saleh opponents took to the streets.
But the opposition vowed it would press on with four months of deadly street protests until Saleh signs up to a Gulf-brokered plan for his departure.
"If Saleh does not sign, the revolt will escalate and he will be thrown out of office," Mohammed al-Qahtan, spokesman for the Common Forum opposition umbrella group, said
The bloodshed came as hundreds of Saleh loyalists armed with batons blocked roads in Sanaa leading to the presidential palace, to the airport and Tahrir Square near government headquarters, said an AFP correspondent.
Hundreds of thousands of Saleh opponents also took to the streets of Sanaa in their biggest rally since protests began in January.
Doctors marched in their white coats while young protesters wore the colors of the Yemeni flag -- red, black and white.
Meanwhile, soldiers from the Republican Guards, which are led by Saleh's son Ahmed, opened fire on demonstrators wounding seven in Yemen's second-largest city Taez where hundreds of thousands demonstrated demanding Saleh's ouster, witnesses said.
Similar protests erupted across the strategic Arabian Peninsula country in Al-Hudaydah, Ibb, Al-Baida, Marib, Aden and Hadramawt, residents there said.
Since late January, security forces have mounted a bloody crackdown on protests demanding Saleh's departure, leaving at least 180 people dead, according to a toll compiled from reports by activists and medics.