SANAA, Yemen – Under pressure from protesters and regional allies, Yemen’s embattled president said Saturday he will sign a deal to step down after 32 years in power. Still, he condemned the proposal as “a coup” and warned the U.S. and Europe that his departure will open the door for al-Qaida to seize control of the fragile nation.

The mixed signals from Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, followed two earlier promises by him to sign the proposal. Both times he backed away at the last minute, adding to the opposition’s deep mistrust of a leader known for adept political maneuvering that has kept him in power for decades.

In a sign that he may be ready to sign this time, the coalition of opposition political parties involved in the talks with Gulf Arab mediators was persuaded to sign the deal Saturday, a day ahead of Saleh, based on what it said were guarantees that the president would follow through.

“We accept the initiative to stop bloodshed,” Saleh said in a televised speech, and an official statement earlier in the day said he would sign the deal today.