Ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Wednesday that 10 of his rivals among the country's top military commanders, politicians and tribal leaders must leave the country with him for the sake of stability.
The new condition appears to be a way for Saleh to remain longer in Yemen. His presence is blamed for much of the country's turmoil.
Though Saleh transferred power to his vice president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi last month after a yearlong uprising, he has lingered on in Yemen.
In a statement Wednesday, Saleh said "elements of the Yemen crisis" must leave the country, based on a deal he struck last year.
"It was agreed upon that all of them would give up power for the sake of stability and security of Yemen," the statement said.
Saleh was referring to a meeting that took place in March last year in Hadi's house, during which Saleh proposed that he and the rest of his opponents leave the country.
However, his proposal was not included in official agreements he and the opposition parties signed, including the U.S. and Gulf-backed power transfer deal. The deal gave him immunity from prosecution in return for stepping down.
The 10 include Saleh's rivals, among them Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who defected to the rebels, Islamists and sons of Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, leader of an anti-Saleh Hashid tribal confederation.
A government official told The Associated Press that Saleh is trying "to foil the power transfer deal." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Abdel-Hadi al-Azazi, one of the Yemen's many young protesters, commented on Saleh's statement by saying, "This man is a liar and plays with words. We are used to his tricks. This is no surprise."
Saleh's presence, along with top family members and loyalists in the country's most sensitive positions, has contributed to the inability of the newly inaugurated president to carry out reforms within the ranks of the military.
This has left parts of Yemen, especially in the south, with a security vacuum which al-Qaida militants have exploited over the past year. taking control of several towns.