Yemen – Unrest and possible constitutional change

Yemen is one of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa that has been caught up in the recent wave of unrest. To date, the government’s response has tended to be repressive. However, demonstrations have continued.

Recently, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1994, has proposed major constitutional changes as a way of managing the situation. Yemen Observer has a good report on his speech.

During the speech he outlined proposals for major changes, including a national unity government and a proportional electoral system. For the purposes of this blog, though, he is also reported as saying that he wanted to introduce a parliamentary system. Given the slipperiness of definitions at the political level, it is not clear what he meant by this term. However, it could well be that Yemen’s tenuous grip on semi-presidentialism is about to end.

That said, President Ali Abdullah Saleh is under pressure and the initiatives may not be enough to stem the tide of protest. Events may yet overtake his reform plans.

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