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Yemen's President Offers Conditions To Leave Sooner

A Yemeni army officer is lifted by anti-government protestors in a demonstration against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, March 24, 2011. Muhammed Muheisen/AP hide caption

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Muhammed Muheisen/AP

A Yemeni army officer is lifted by anti-government protestors in a demonstration against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, March 24, 2011.

Muhammed Muheisen/AP

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told a crowd of protesters in Sanaa today he's prepared to leave power but he'll only give it to someone with 'safe hands'. The New York Times and the Telegraph report Saleh and top Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar are negotiating the president's exit; Ahmar defected from the government earlier this week.

As Eyder reported yesterday, Yemeni opposition groups have previously rejected Saleh's offer to step down after a presidential election this year. Reuters, citing Yemen TV, says Saleh has now sweetened his offer as a way to prevent bloodshed.

Today has been dubbed Yemen's 'Day of Departure'; weeks of protest are aimed at forcing the president to leave office after 32 years in power. A week ago, the Times estimated 100,000 people gathered in the capital to demand he leave: snipers fired into the crowd and at least 52 people were killed.