SANAA, Thursday 3 March 2011 (AFP) - Yemeni opposition groups and religious leaders have offered embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh plans for a smooth exit from power by the end of 2011, an opposition spokesman said Thursday.
"We've agreed on a settlement proposal including a roadmap for the president's departure before the end of this year," said the opposition's parliamentary spokesman, Mohammed al-Sabri.
The proposal was agreed upon during "a meeting with religious scholars," said Sabri.
Saleh should announce it to the people, who would then "decide whether to accept or reject this proposal," said a statement by the Common Forum, an alliance of parliamentary opposition.
Yemeni protesters would "not allow any side to negotiate in their name on this matter," it added.
Saleh's 32-year rule has been rocked by a wave of protests that have killed at least 19 people since February 16, according to an AFP tally based on reports by medics and witnesses.
The veteran leader has repeatedly rejected domestic calls for his resignation. His one concession so far has been to pledge not to seek re-election in 2013, which the opposition dismissed as inadequate.
On Sunday, Saleh vowed to defend his regime "with every drop of blood," accusing his opponents of hijacking protests in a ploy to split the nation.
The uprising against Saleh was inspired by similar revolts that toppled the seemingly unshakeable presidents of Tunisia and Egypt.