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One man has ruled Yemen, like many of its neighbors in the Middle East for a very long time. At times it seems like the leaders in the region compete for who stays on the job the longest. President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen is no exception.
Like Egypt’s Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali, Yemen’s president was planning to mark yet another anniversary of his rule (33rd in his case). However that seems highly unlikely given the recent protests in that country.
The opposition in Yemen has achieved a major milestone in their fight to oust their president. They have agreed in principle to a five-point manifesto that charts the course of their country’s future. They have also made President Saleh agree to some form of unity government as a transitional phase.
Considering that the embattled president has been experiencing increased pressure in his country, with tens of thousands of protestors demanding he resign, it is understandable that he would claim to have found “common ground” with the five point demands of the opposition.
A summary of the five-point agreed to by the opposition is as follows,
1- A peaceful and smooth transition of power before the end of 2011. This point also includes the stipulation that President Saleh will not be allowed to appoint nor recommend any specific candidate, including family members of the president that currently hold high posts in the military.
2- Prohibits the exclusion of the various opposition parties and figures in the coming elections. This includes those in the south of Yemen, the youthful protestors as well as the various exiled Yemeni opposition figures currently living abroad
3- The formation of a new unity government inclusive of opposition members. The new government must give assurance to create an environment in which the next elections occur in a free and fair manner.
4- The right to assemble and protest peacefully.
5- to give financial assistance to those injured during the uprising as well as to the families that have lost loved ones.
The five-point agreement seems to be a comprehensive step in the right direction to expand the rights of the Yemeni people as well as their choices. How the process unfolds and to who power will finally rest is something the remainder of the world will certainly be anxiously awaiting to see.
One thing is certain though, the tremors of this major shake up rocking the whole of the Middle East will be felt by everyone in the months and even years to come.