Yemen’s president says won’t remain in power but ruling party insists he continue until his term expires

Jordan parliament rejects reducing king’s powers

Clashes grip Latakia as 12 protesters reportedly killed

Syria heading toward lifting emergency, implementing political, press reforms

U.S. says won’t intervene in Syria, urges Assad to launch internal political dialogue

The Yemeni ruling party rejected protesters' demand of ousting President Ali Abdullah Saleh immediately, charging the Islamist party of the opposition coalition with flaring up street protests, state-run Saba news agency reported.

"It is unacceptable and illogical to twist our arm and override the constitutional legitimacy or impose the minority's will on the majority people," Saba cited a statement by the ruling General People's Congress (GPC) party as saying.

It said the statement was issued following a meeting of the GPC, which was headed by President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"There were more than 10 million government supporters who came from all provinces to the capital Sanaa to back the constitutional legitimacy, security, stability and unity of Yemen, " the GPC said in the statement.

In the statement, the GPC accused the Islamist Islah Party, the largest party in the opposition coalition, of being behind igniting weeks-long youth-led street protests.

"These difficult days of political crisis were caused by continuing intransigent position of opposition Islamist Islah Party along with its allies in the opposition coalition, Houthi-le Shiite rebels and al-Qaeda group," read the statement.

The impoverished Arab state is facing mounting rampage of al- Qaeda wing in east and south of the country, as well as a separatist movement in the south and a Shiite rebellion in the north.

Meanwhile, President Saleh have been exerting non-stop concessions and efforts in a series of attempts to yield a deal to end the deadlock in the political arena.

He have been holding nearly daily meetings with loyal tribal chieftains and local councilmen from all major provinces since the protests demanding immediate an end to his 33-year rule erupted in mid February, according to Saba.

Yemen's president has made a new offer to protesters demanding his ouster, proposing he stays in office until elections are held but transferring his powers to a caretaker government, an opposition source said.

Ali Abdullah Saleh made his offer at a meeting with Mohammed al-Yadoumi, head of the Islamist Islah party. It was the first time Saleh had dealt with Islah, once a partner in his government, an opposition spokesmen said.

"The opposition could pick a head of government of its own choosing and there would be parliamentary elections by the end of the year," an opposition source said of Saleh's offer. He said the opposition was still considering its response.

Weeks of protests by many thousands in Sanaa and other cities have sent Saleh's 32-year rule to the brink of collapse, but the United States and top oil producer Saudi Arabia, a key Yemen financer, are worried over who could succeed their ally.

They have long regarded Saleh as a bulwark of stability who can keep al-Qaeda from extending its foothold in an Arabian Peninsula country that many see as close to disintegration.

Yemen's al Qaeda wing claimed responsibility for a foiled attempt in late 2009 to blow up an airliner bound for Detroit, and for U.S.-bound cargo bombs sent in October 2010.

U.S. officials have said openly they like working with Saleh -- who has allowed unpopular U.S. air strikes in Yemen against al Qaeda -- and Saleh has said the U.S. ambassador in Sanaa is involved in talks to find a solution.

Any agreement between Saleh and the parties could run into trouble from another party -- the protesters.

A coalition of protester groups calling themselves the Youth Revolution issued a statement saying they would not leave the large public space near Sanaa University until Saleh and his allies are removed from power.

"A temporary presidential council of five individuals known for experience and integrity should run the country for an interim period (of six months)," it said, adding the council should appoint a technocrat to form a caretaker government.

It also called for corruption trials, return of "stolen public and private property," release of political detainees, dissolving state security forces and closing the information ministry -- steps taken in Tunisia and Egypt after similar pro-democracy uprisings had removed entrenched leaders.

They called for dialogue over the complaints of northern Shiites and southerners who lean toward secession.

Sheikh Hamid al-Ahmar, a key tribal figure who belongs to the Islah party, told Reuters Islah and the opposition could handle the militant issue better than Saleh, whose government he said was not serious in confronting them.

"I think Yemenis would be capable to free Yemen of terror within months," Ahmar said, adding that the United States and European countries should call directly for Saleh's departure.

"They should do what they did in Egypt. We don't need what is going on in Libya. We don't need that much support. But support like what was done in Egypt would be enough to finish things," he said.

Protesters and opposition parties suspect incidents of lax security over the past week are government ploys to demonstrate to foreign powers that Saleh is the strongman who can hold the impoverished country together.

Islamists took control of a town in the central province of Abyan after government security deserted it, and the governors of Saada and Jawf provinces in the north also quit, prompting "popular committees" who back the protest movement to step in.

The opposition says Saleh is to blame for the presence of militants, including al Qaeda, in the Abyan city of Jaar, where an explosion at a bullet factory killed 140 people.

A perennial survivor of civil wars and militancy, Saleh has said Yemen could drift into armed conflict and fragment along regional and tribal lines if he leaves office immediately.

Saleh, who has been alternately conciliatory and defiant, has vowed in public to make no more concessions to opponents. But talks have been going on behind the scenes for days.

This week, Saleh's General People's Congress proposed a new government to activate his earlier offers of a new constitution ahead of early parliamentary and presidential elections. He said in February he would not run for re-election when his term expires in 2013.

The opposition says it believes Saleh is maneuvering to avoid limits on his family's future political activities and secure a guarantee they will not be prosecuted for corruption.

Some ideas that were floated included both Saleh and General Mohsen, a kinsman and former ally seen as Yemen's second most powerful man, stepping down together as well as Saleh handing over power to a new vice-president.

In Amman, Jordan's lower house has said it absolutely rejects calls seeking downgrading constitutional authorities of King Abdullah II.

Stating the king receives his powers from the constitution, the 120-member lower house Sunday (March 27) said it will work to ensure that the king remains "powerful" to preserve the Jordanian identity and the constitution, Xinhua reported.

"The lower house completely rejects some calls to limit the constitutional authorities of the king. These calls do not represent the Jordanian community and they seek to divide the Jordanian state," the lower house said in the statement.

It also rejected "political blackmail" that hampers the reform process and causes tension in the country.

Dialogue, instead of street protests, is the sole way to reach consensus on national issues, said the statement and also underlined the need to preserve national unity, calling on all parties to shoulder their responsibilities to protect Jordan's security and stability.

Meanwhile, twelve people were killed in clashes last week in the northern city of Latakia, presidential adviser Buthaina Shaaban told AFP.

'The official death toll in Latakia on Saturday (March 26) is 10 people - citizens and members of the security forces - and two gunmen,' Shaaban told AFP.

Syrian troops have entered the port city of Latakia, 350 kilometers north-west of the capital Damascus, a day after an official said two passers-by were killed by snipers.

The bloodshed was the latest in a spiral of violence that has gripped Syria since protests broke out on March 15, with demonstrators demanding major reforms.

The government has announced a string of reforms in a bid to appease the protesters, including the possibility of lifting emergency rule which has been in place since 1963.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. won’t enter into the internal conflict in Syria the way it has in Libya, where the international effort to protect civilians from Muammar Gaddafi is progressing.

“No,” Clinton said when asked on the CBS program “Face the Nation” if the U.S. would intervene in Syria’s unrest. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s security forces clashed with protesters in several cities over the weekend after his promises of freedoms and pay increases failed to prevent dissent from spreading across the country.

Clinton said the elements that led to intervention in Libya -- international condemnation, an Arab League call for action, a United Nations Security Council resolution -- are “not going to happen” with Syria, in part because members of the U.S. Congress from both parties say they believe Assad is “a reformer.”

“What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities,” Clinton said, referring to Qaddafi’s attacks on the Libyan people, “than police actions which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”