Yemeni President Pledges New Constitution, Referendum by Year’s End

Saleh Running Out of Things to Offer, Rebels Firm on Ouster

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh today unveiled the latest in a growing collection of concessions to the protest movement, announcing that he intended to draft a new constitution and put it to a national referendum before the end of the year.

The move, as with the others, was quickly rejected by the opposition as too little, too late, and the protesters, tens of thousands of whom continue to march daily, insisted that their only demand remains the ouster of the Saleh regime and free elections.

Indeed, the few elections Yemen has had under decades of Saleh rule have been disputed by the opposition, and even if a referendum were held under the Saleh government it would likely face concerns about reliability.

The protests against Saleh began shortly after the ouster of Zine Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, and have continued to grow nationwide, with support from separatist movements in the north and south, as well as tribal factions. The Saleh government announced a pay raise for security forces at the start of the protests, and appears to retain a strong hold over his forces as they try to crush the protests.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of