Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has told the country’s parliament that he will stand down when his current term expires in 2013.
Saleh told parliament that not only would he stand down, but he would also not attempt to appoint his son as his successor.
His comments came before the ‘day of rage’ protests that have taken place today in Yemeni capital of Sanaa. About 20,000 protesters have taken to the streets to protest at Saleh’s regime, which has held power in the country for more than 30 years.
The protesters are demanding a change of government in the impoverished country and have rejected Saleh’s offer to step down in 2013. Commentators in Yemen have also dismissed the comments by Saleh as an attempt to diffuse the ‘day of rage’ protests.
The protests have been organised by opposition parties frustrated at the mounting poverty and lack of political freedom in the country. Other factors include a lack of basic necessities such as water and growing security concerns.
It is estimated that 40 per cent of Yemenis live on less than $2 a day. Unemployment stands at about 35 per cent, with illiteracy standing at 50 per cent of the population.