Yemeni President concedes power

Yemeni
President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said he will not seek to extend his presidency
when his current term expires in 2013.

Mr
Saleh, who has been in power for three decades, also pledged that he would not
pass on power to his son.

He
spoke to parliament ahead of a rally in the capital on Thursday which, echoing
protests in Tunisia and Egypt, has been dubbed a “day of rage”.

Mr
Saleh came to power as president of North Yemen in 1978.

When
the country was united with South Yemen in 1990 he became president of the new
republic.

Speaking
during an emergency session of the country’s parliament and the consultative
council, Mr Saleh laid out his plans to move aside.

“No
extension, no inheritance, no resetting the clock,” he said.

“I
present these concessions in the interests of the country. The interests of the
country come before our personal interests.”

He
also called on the opposition to “freeze all planned protests, rallies and
sit-ins”.

President
Saleh’s statement seems to be a big concession, but opposition leaders say this
is not enough.

They
have been calling for political reform and fair and transparent elections for
five years.

Now,
they want him to leave office. They say 30 years is more than enough.

Yemen
suffers from high population growth, 40 per cent unemployment, rising food
prices and acute levels of malnutrition.

Some
40 per cent of the population lives on less than $2 a day and parts of the
country have become a haven for al-Qaeda militants.

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