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
TEXT SIZE - +

 

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid