Yemen's Saleh vows to step down as president

Yemeni anti-regime protesters take part in a protest in Sanaa, demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh steps down.

Story highlights

  • Protesters have been demanding that Saleh step down for months
  • He has seemed on the verge of handing over power before, only to reverse himself
  • Government forces have responded violently to protesters

Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh will leave office "within 90 days" of an agreement with the regional Gulf Cooperation Council, he said in an interview.

"When we agree on the GCC initiative, and when it is signed, and when we agree on structure of a power transfer -- and elections happen, the president will leave," Saleh said in the interview with France 24 television.

Saleh's country has been the scene of violent protests for months as his opponents demand he leave power after 33 years in office.

He was wounded in an attack on his compound earlier this year and spent weeks in Saudi Arabia being treated for burns. He looked healthy in the France 24 interview, which took place in Arabic and was posted online late Monday.

Saleh has appeared several times to be on the verge of agreeing to hand over power, only to change course.

Yemeni women burn veils in protest
Yemeni women burn veils in protest

    JUST WATCHED

    Yemeni women burn veils in protest

MUST WATCH

Yemeni women burn veils in protest 02:29
PLAY VIDEO
The youth of the Arab Spring
The youth of the Arab Spring

    JUST WATCHED

    The youth of the Arab Spring

MUST WATCH

The youth of the Arab Spring 02:33
PLAY VIDEO
Yemen's youth continue calls for change
Yemen's youth continue calls for change

    JUST WATCHED

    Yemen's youth continue calls for change

MUST WATCH

Yemen's youth continue calls for change 02:39
PLAY VIDEO
Clashes in Yemen turn deadly
Clashes in Yemen turn deadly

    JUST WATCHED

    Clashes in Yemen turn deadly

MUST WATCH

Clashes in Yemen turn deadly 01:53
PLAY VIDEO

But he insisted in the interview he had no desire to "hang onto power."

"I know the difficulties, the negatives, the positives, I will not hang onto power. Whoever hangs onto power I think is crazy," he said.

International powers including the United States have urged him to step down.

Government troops have responded with live fire to protests, killing many, according to medics and opposition sources.

      Unrest in the Arab world

    • CNN Arabic

      For the latest news on developments in the Middle East and North Africa in Arabic.
    • Spanish riot police stands ners the inscrpitions "Down with the regime" on the wall of the Spanish parliament during a protest in the center of Madrid on November 17, 2011 against education spending cuts. Madrid's regional government has increased the number of hours of classes teachers must give from 18 hours a week to 20 hours because temporary hiring has being cut back.

      Arab Spring, European winter

      Common factors have shaped the chaos in the Middle East and Europe, including high unemployment, slow growth, inexperienced leaders