Yemen's Saleh Clings to Power
October 13, 2011
By: Lulu Buhisi | Printer Friendly
On September 24, the United States Department of State joined the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in calling for an end to the violence that has plagued Yemen for months. The State Department supports the creation of an investigative committee to look into the deaths of innocent lives. The United States urges President Ali Abdullah Saleh to transfer power peacefully by holding presidential elections as soon as possible, as a first step.to set the Yemeni people on the path to democracy Saleh has ruled Yemen for 33 years.
On September 25, BBC News reported that in his first televised speech since returning to Yemen, after seeking medical treatment in Saudi Arabia for three months, Saleh called for early elections. If Saleh continues to hold onto power, the opposition fears the already impoverished and violence-ravaged country may slip into civil war and economic collapse.
On October 9, the New York Times reported that President Saleh will not be voluntarily stepping down any time soon. In March 2011, the GCC offered Saleh the Gulf Initiative, a political transition plan to transfer power; as of yet, Saleh has refused to sign the initiative or work with the opposition on new reforms. In a televised speech, Saleh said, "It's not because I crave power, I reject power and I will leave it in the coming days and leave it behind." Saleh sees leaving his position as surrendering defeat to his opponents, General Ali Mohsin and Hamid al-Ahmar. The government blames the two men for the attack on Saleh in June that lead to his escaping to Saudi Arabia for three months of treatment. Officials said Mohsin and al-Ahmar are using the protests to compete for power.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qibri, traveled to the United Arab Emirates to offer the GCC a new plan, which would allow Saleh to remain in power until early elections can be held next year. Yassin Saeed Noman, leader of Yemen’s coalition of political opponents, wants the international community to place more pressure on Saleh, “not just saying they will support, but we want real action.” So far, sanctions have not been placed on Saleh and his family.
Activists who want Saleh to resign immediately would also like to see concrete concessions. Leading activist, Tawakkul Karman, says Saleh is not to be trusted and promised the revolution's protests will continue. Protests in Yemen began in January 2011. Karman is one of three women to share the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. As a recipient of this award, Karman brings light and international recognition to the Arab Spring revolutions. Tawakkul dedicated the award to "all the youth in the Arab world."
For previous news on Yemen, please see:
Yemen's Saleh Vows to Return to Power
US Department of State – Ongoing Political Situation in Yemen
AlJazeera – A Nobel for the Arab Spring
BBC News – Yemen leader Ali Abdullah Saleh calls for early polls
BBC News – Yemen's Ali Abdullah 'to step down within days'
New York Times – After New Pledge to Leave, Signs of Yemeni President's Resolve to Linger