Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh will not seek re-election once his current term ends in 2013, he said Wednesday, after more than three decades in office.
He won’t install his son to replace him, he said. He also has asked his political opponents “to re-engage in dialogue in hopes of reaching a sustainable and reconcilable political agreement,” the Yemeni government said.
Saleh made the announcement as unprecedented protests sweep across North Africa and the Middle East.
The demonstrations have forced Tunisia’s president from office, and they prompted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to say Tuesday he would not run for re-election this year.
King Abdullah of Jordan, meanwhile, has sacked his government and appointed a new prime minister in the face of protests there.
In Yemen, Saleh had called an emergency parliamentary meeting ahead of a “day of rage” protests scheduled for Thursday.
The protests — which have also caught on to various extents in Algeria and Sudan — have proved to be “a real watershed event for the Arab world,” said Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine. “It’s really unprecedented.”
Saleh has been in office for 32 years and was last re-elected in 2006.
High-ranking officials around him have started obtaining ordinary passports for themselves and their families — in addition to the official diplomatic ones they already carry — as the unrest spreads, Arab diplomatic sources in the capital of Sanaa told CNN.
“There is a lot of trepidation here and no one wants to be in the situation that Ben Ali found himself in after he was forced flee,” one source said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Anyone who tells you what will happen next, or that he/she knows what to do in this situation, is likely lying. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that it’s gotten violent in Egypt.