Hit hard by defections of high profile government functionaries and the loss of support among a key tribal group, Yemen's embattled president Ali Abdullah Saleh has decided to call it quits earlier than planned.

Saleh will quit by the end of the year, not in 2013 as previously planned, a government official announced on Tuesday. It has been reported that the president has now accepted an earlier offer by the opposition under which Saleh were to exit the scene by the end of the year.

However, the opposition had withdrawn the offer and called on the president to resign immediately, after the protests gained momentum.

Saleh dismissed his cabinet on Sunday as protests intensified in the wake of the killing of more than 50 protesters by the security forces last week. A powerful tribal group in the country, the Hashed, also demanded that Saleh resign immediately. The slaughter of the protesters marked a high point in the month-long uprising, with Islamic clerics calling for soldiers to disobey orders and defect.

High profile defections continued on Tuesday, with Abdel-Malik Mansour, Yemen’s representative to the Arab League, announcing that he supported the rebels. Army commanders and former ministers have already joined the protesters, dealing heavy blow to the 32-year rule of Saleh.