Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32 year term in office could become a lot longer if a draft amendment to the nation’s constitution is cleared. Now in discussion in parliament, the amendment would clear the way for Saleh to become president for life.
Saleh’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) party is said to be discussing the amendment in parliament, sparking an opposition sit-in outside of parliament to protest the possibility.
The bill is nominally about removing term limits, but according to one member of the GPC, the amendment would give Saleh the ability to “re-elect himself without limits” and would formalize Saleh’s permanent rule over the nation.
Saleh seized power in 1977 following the assassination of the previous junta head, Ibrahim al-Hamdi, and has held power ever since. The current Yemeni constitution only allows a president to have to be elected to two seven year terms in office, which is technically true of Saleh because he was elected in 1999 and again in 2006. The previous 22 year term didn’t involve anything resembling an election.