Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has backed out of a plan to travel to the US for medical treatment. The official line is that Saleh was persuaded to stay by his party, which told him that his strife-torn country needed him, the New York Times reports. Saleh, after months of protest against his 33-year-rule, signed a power transfer agreement in November; he is believed to be intent on staying in Yemen to ensure his relatives and backers are not purged from power.
As part of the deal, Saleh won immunity from prosecution over the deaths of hundreds of protesters, infuriating the opposition. "Saleh has resisted stepping down for the last year and every time he's agreed to a deal he's broken his promise," a member of the opposition says. "But the president will not be able to stop the wheel of change. Saleh will become more and more isolated." Presidential elections are scheduled for next month.