A United Nations Security Council meeting on Yemen scheduled for Monday has been postponed, the UN envoy to the country said on Sunday as he struggled to bring political rivals in Sanaa together.
"The Security Council meeting was postponed to November 28 at the request of the protagonists" of the Yemen crisis, said Jamal Benomar, who has been in the capital since last week for talks on ending 10 months of political deadlock and bloodshed.
A leading opposition figure accused the embattled regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh of trying to gain time.
"The postponement has been made at the request of the regime that seeks to gain time in an attempt to mislead the mediators," he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The 15-member Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2014 on October 21 condemning the Sanaa government's crackdown on the mass anti-regime protest movement that has swept the country.
It also called on Saleh to sign a Gulf Cooperation Council plan which calls for an end to his 33-year-rule in return for immunity from prosecution.
Saleh has so far refused to sign the agreement despite violence which has seen hundreds of people killed and thousands wounded.
Benomar and ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council "have been since Saturday in contact with the authorities and the opposition to bring together the different views," said the opposition leader.
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These efforts have been thwarted by Saleh's insistence on "maintaining certain powers until presidential elections," although the plan stipulates he must transfer power a month after it is signed, he added.
The US ambassador in Sanaa "Gerald Feierstein presented a new proposal to move forward with the implementation mechanism," said the same source, without giving further details.
Meanwhile, a Western diplomat in Sanaa told AFP on Sunday that Western mediators are pushing for a deal to be reached between Saleh and his military rival, dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar.
Western mediators want to clinch a deal between Yemen's key players -- Saleh and his son Ahmed, who commands the elite Republican Guard, and General Ahmar and Hamid al-Ahmar, a leading figure in the main opposition Islamist Al-Islah (reform) party.
The diplomat said that if this fails, two scenarios remain -- the situation will not change and "warlords" will make use of the impasse between the opposition and the regime, or a war will erupt between Yemen's rivals.
But the diplomat said "we will not allow war in Yemen" which would have a negative impact on Western interests in the country, as Al-Qaeda could exploit any unrest in the deeply tribal country.
Benomar returned to Sanaa on November 10 in a new attempt to persuade Saleh and his opponents to solve the crisis and to get him to sign the Gulf plan that calls on him to hand power to his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
The UN envoy is now expected to submit a report to the Security Council on his return to New York.
Last week, diplomats had said the Security Council would meet on Monday to discuss Saleh's refusal to step down, as well as the increased violence which the international community fears will escalate into a full-scale civil war.