News / Middle East

Yemeni President Pledges New Constitution

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, center, surrounded by guards,  arrives for a meeting with his supporters during a gathering in a soccer stadium in Sana'a, March 10, 2011
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, center, surrounded by guards, arrives for a meeting with his supporters during a gathering in a soccer stadium in Sana'a, March 10, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

After a month of protests across Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has pledged to draft a new constitution, which he says will be voted on by the nation before the end of the year. An opposition spokesperson says the move is too little, too late.  

The Yemeni president announced his plan in a nationally televised speech in the capital Sana’a.

He said a committee will be formed to prepare the new constitution, which he said will be based on the separation of powers.

He said a referendum on the new constitution will be held before the end of 2011.

It is the latest in a string of concessions made by Saleh in an attempt to quell protests in his country.

Yemen is a presidential republic and Saleh, who has been in power since a military coup in 1978, wields considerable power.

But the country is suffering: water wells are drying out, oil resources are diminishing, unemployment is soaring and the population is growing – almost half the nation is under the age of 15.

Since a revolt in Egypt toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak last month, people in Yemen have taken to the streets hoping to oust Saleh in the same way.

After the leader's speech on Thursday, an opposition spokesperson said the president’s pledge to draw up a constitution was too little, too late.

In London, a spokesman for Human Rights Watch, Tom Porteous, says the move by Saleh, if genuine, is a positive step. But he says the facts on the ground undermine the president's pledges for political reform.

"The problem we have in Yemen is that at the same time as offering political reform, which is a part of what the protesters are asking for, the government continues to crack down very hard on the protesters and we get deaths and injuries, and that's not a productive way to go about reform," Porteous said.

According to information collected by Amnesty International, about 30 people have been killed since protests began.

Human Rights Watch on Thursday reported that two people were killed during demonstrations in northern Yemen this month.  Based on interviews with witnesses and medical staff, the group says soldiers fired on demonstrators who were protesting peacefully in the town of Harf Sufyan on March 4.

Clashes have taken place repeatedly in the north in recent years between security forces and a Shi'ite rebel movement. Yemen’s Defense Ministry blamed the March 4 incident on the rebels, who it said, attacked a military post.

Porteous says security forces have been cracking down on protesters throughout Yemen.

“We've been documenting violence used by the security forces in Sana’a, where there have been demonstrations; also in the south where there have been protests, which are related in part to the secessionist movement there and organized by the secessionist movement but have become part of the nationwide protests against the president, and now this incident in the north,” Porteous added.

Saleh is a longtime ally of the United States. He says he will not step down until 2013 when his term is due to end.

 

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid