Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yemen's Saleh Offers Concessions

By Theresa McCabe

Mar 30, 2011

NEW YORK (The Street) -- Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh proposed transferring his powers to a caretaker government in an effort to pacify the anti-government demonstrators in the country, according to reports.

Yemen's president made the concession offer at a meeting on Tuesday night with Mohammed al-Yadoumi, head of the Islamist Islah party, Reuters reported, citing an opposition source familiar with the matter.

"The opposition could pick a head of government of its own choosing and there would be parliamentary elections by the end of the year," the opposition source said of Saleh's offer.

According to the proposal, Saleh would stay in office until elections were held. The opposition is still considering its response to the offer, Reuters was told.

Yemen has been rocked by a popular uprising since the end of January. Yemen's main opposition groups continue to organize anti-government demonstrations in Sanaa and other cities calling for an end to Saleh's oppressive 32-year rule.

A coalition of protester groups gathered in the large public space near Sanaa University on Wednesday. The group said they refuse to leave until Saleh is removed from power.

"A temporary presidential council of five individuals known for experience and integrity should run the country for an interim period [of six months]," the Youth Revolution coalition proposed in a statement on Wednesday.

Saleh, the embattled leader, has offered his nation a number of concessions in efforts to quell the civil unrest.

In February, Saleh vowed that he wouldn't seek re-election in 2013, and pledged that he wouldn't hand over power to his son. A few weeks later the leader offered to organize a new presidential election by January 2012 instead of September 2013, when his term ends.

In the past weeks, a number of top commanders, ambassadors and tribes have turned on Saleh to join Yemen's anti-government movement, as he struggles to hold onto power.

Yemen's northwest army commander Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar decided to back the opposition after more than 50 civilians were killed in a violent crackdown by government forces on tens of thousands of peaceful protesters in the capital city Sanaa.

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