SANAA, The signing ceremony of a deal to end Yemen's political crisis was indefinitely postponed after the Yemeni president refused to sign it personally, a Gulf official said on Sunday, signaling the possible collapse of the agreement.
Ahmed Khalifa al-Kaabi, a media official for the Gulf Cooperation Council sponsoring the agreement, told The Associated Press that foreign ministers from the group's six member-states would meet in Riyadh later on Sunday to find a way to end the Yemeni crisis, which risks destabilizing the whole Arabian peninsula.
The GCC, an association of Yemen's oil rich neighbors, comprises Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman.
Yemen's opposition parties, which had initially agreed to the deal, said they would not sign it if President Ali Abdullah Saleh did not do it personally as well.
For their part, the representatives of the hundreds of thousands of Yemeni who have been staging anti-Saleh demonstrations since early February have rejected the deal in its entirety, demanding that Saleh immediately step down and face trial.
The ceremony was expected to be held in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Sunday or Monday.
Yemen has been wracked by massive anti-government protests since mid-February, calling for Saleh to step down after 32 years in power. At least 140 people have died in the past few months as security forces have violently dispersed the protests.
The GCC, offered a deal to resolve the crisis, with Saleh to step down after 30 days and the creation of a national unity government between the ruling party and the opposition.
The fact that al-Kaabi specifically cited Saleh's refusal to personally sign the deal indicated that the GCC blamed him for the deadlock in the efforts to end the crisis in Yemen.
Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, the GCC secretary general, was in Yemen to finalize a date for the signing ceremony. Government officials said Saleh told al-Zayani on Saturday that he would ratify the deal after it is signed by his close aide and senior ruling party official Abdul-Karim al-Iryani.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.