Friday, March 11, 2011

Yemen's president offers reforms, opposition calls them 'too little too late'

Ali Abdllah Saleh
Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh pledged on Thursday to rewrite the constitution and delegate more powers to a new parliamentary system of governing. However he did not say whether he would leave or not as thousands of protesters press for his departure.
In a speech, meant to solve the current political crisis, Saleh presented his initiative to thousands of pro-government supporters who converged on a stadium in the capital Sanaa from across the country.
His proposal includes writing a new constitution that would separate powers and will be brought to vote before the end of this year. The new constitution to be written by a committee of political and social figures.
Saleh proposed converting the country’s presidential system into a parliamentary one that gives all executive powers to a government elected by Parliament and introducing a powerful decentralized local government system by early 2012.
Days after his forces clashed with demonstrators, Saleh said that he gave his orders to the government to fulfill the demonstrators’ demands and to protect them. Saleh stated that the opposition was going to throw out his offer, which is why he appealed directly to the nation.
 Tens of thousands of anti-Saleh protesters took to the streets of Sanaa, Taiz and Ibb as Saleh pitched his initiative to his own supporters. South of the capital in Dhamar, one of the 68-year old leader's political strongholds, thousands rallied against the government Thursday.
The opposition in Yemen was not impressed by Saleh's new offer. Mohammed Al-Sabri, spokesman of Yemen’s opposition coalition parties, told Arab News by telephone that the regime always gives tardy offers. “The offer expresses the political bankruptcy of the regime. The millions of demonstrators in the streets are telling him to step down and he offers new initiatives.Our response will be presented tomorrow when millions of people across the country go to the streets on the ‘Friday of Determination and Challenge.’”
The rotating president of Yemen's umbrella opposition coalition, Yassin Noman, said his plan was too little, too late, and would not put an end to calls for Saleh's resignation. 'These proposals have been overtaken by realities on the ground,' he said. 'Had the ruling party offered this six months ago, it would have been different. It's too late now.'

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