In address to nation, president says vice-president authorised to hold talks with opposition and sign deal.
25 Sep 2011
Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's embattled president, has called for peaceful transition of power to end months of unrest in the country.
In an address on television, Saleh said he had authorised the vice-president to engage in dialogue with the opposition and sign a transition deal.
He said presidential and parliamentary elections would be held after an agreement is signed.
A defiant Saleh said violence would not succeed in bringing about change in the country. "This bloodbath will not get you power," he told those ranged against him.
Sunday's address was Saleh's first since he returned to the country last week after recuperating in neighbouring Saudi Arabia for three months following an attack on him in June.
As Saleh spoke, anti-government protesters lit a symbolic torch in the capital's Change Square.
Sanaa has been gripped by street battles and exchanges of shelling between the elite Republican Guards, led by Saleh's son, and tribesmen opposing Saleh as well as military units who had defected.
Nearly 100 people have been killed in Sanaa and elsewhere in Yemen since Sunday.
Protests have been taking place on a nearly daily basis in Sanaa since mid-January calling for an end to Saleh's rule which began in 1978. Saleh was re-elected in September 2006 for a seven-year mandate.
Alarmed by the escalating unrest, Yemen's wealthy Gulf neighbours have been trying for months to persuade Saleh to accept a plan under which he would hand over power in return for a promise of immunity from prosecution.
Saleh had been involved in the negotiations, repeatedly promising to step down only to change his position at the last minute.