News / Middle East

    Yemen's President Offers Reforms in Bid to Calm Growing Turmoil

    President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaks during a media conference in Sanaa, Yemen, February 21, 2011
    President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaks during a media conference in Sanaa, Yemen, February 21, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio

     

    Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh is vowing to undertake political and constitutional reforms, in a bid to calm protests that have been shaking the country for more than ten days.

    As protesters call for his resignation, President Saleh insisted Monday that he would not quit, unless voters repudiated him at the ballot box. He also vowed to undertake serious political reform and urged protesters to use the election process to work for change:

    He says that he supports political reforms, legal reforms and constitutional reforms. He says he is opposed to unrest and violence. He insists that people who want change should adopt what he calls a civilized and decent behavior and participate in parliamentary and presidential elections.

    Despite Mr. Saleh’s pledge for reform, hundreds of young Yemenis appear to have set up camp outside Sanaa University, shouting and waving signs demanding his resignation.

    Yemen expert Stephen Steinbeiser of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies in Sana'a says that he expected the president’s promise of reform to appease young people and opposition parties, but that students appear unwilling to accept his offer:

    "It seems that a lot of young people are really committed to the idea of revolution or change in some very substantive way and a lot of them, they are optimistic that basically the revolution is happening right now,” Steinbeiser said. “I don't know if it is, and I certainly can't imagine a time frame for real change to somehow occur in the very near future, but it just seems to me that people are dug in and entrenched in positions and I'm not sure if mere dialogue is going to make any kind of a difference."

    Steinbeiser argues that Yemenis have strong historic ties to nearby Egypt and that most people watched the popular movement sweep away former President Hosni Mubarak and that some are now trying to bring down President Saleh, as well.

    "People were definitely glued to the events in Cairo a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing for everyone,” he added. “And I think that planted the idea. Egypt and Yemen have a long history together and once the revolution succeeded in Egypt then I'm sure that emboldened people here. People were watching al-Jazeera TV up until about 4 o'clock two days ago when it was blocked."

    Tens of thousands of protesters reportedly gathered Monday in the city of Taiz. And in the southern port city of Aden, witnesses say that security forces fired on stone-throwing young people, causing casualties.

    A Yemeni opposition spokesman denounced President Saleh’s offers of reform, calling them a "mere attempt to win time." Mr. Saleh has been in office since 1978, and his current term runs out in 2013.

     

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

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    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.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.