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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs