Deep divisions within Yemen's opposition appeared to doom an Arab proposal for the president to step down within a month, raising the prospect of more bloodshed and instability in a nation already beset by deep poverty and conflict.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled for 32 years, agreed Saturday to the Gulf Cooperation Council's formula for him to transfer power to his vice president within 30 days of a deal being signed in exchange for immunity from prosecution for him and his sons.
A coalition of seven opposition parties generally accepted the deal. But thousands stood their ground Sunday in a permanent protest camp in part of the capital, Sana, and their leaders said they suspect Saleh is just maneuvering to buy time and cling to power. The protesters say the established opposition political parties taking part in the talks with Arab mediators do not represent them and cannot turn off the rage on the streets.
"President Saleh has in the past agreed to initiatives and he went back on his word," said Khaled al-Ansi, one of the youth leaders organizing the street protests. "We have no reason to believe that he would not do this again."
International pressure is also bearing down on him to leave, including from the United States, which had backed his rule with millions in financial assistance and military aid for fighting the active al-Qaida branch that has taken root in the country.