Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Ali Abdullah Saleh ( علي عبدالله صالح; born March 21, 1946 or 1942) is the first and current President of the Republic of Yemen. Saleh previously served as President of the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) from 1978 until 1990, at which time he assumed the office of chairman of the Presidential Council of the Republic of Yemen (unified Yemen). He is the longest-serving president of Yemen, ruling since 1978. On February 2, 2011, he announced that he would step down in 2013.
Saleh is a Zaydi Muslim born in the town of Almaradh in 1946. With less than an elementary school education, he joined the North Yemeni armed forces at an early age and became a corporal. He was promoted by his tribal leaders in 1977 when the President of North Yemen, Ahmed bin Hussein al-Ghashmi (an ally of the Hashed tribe), appointed him as military governor of Ta'izz. Bilateral relations between Sana'a (North Yemen) and Aden (South Yemen) were marked by long periods of hostility interrupted by brief periods of reconciliation and attempts at unification. When Yemeni officials in North Yemen and South Yemen weren't discussing their plans for unity they generally were plotting to destabilize each other. Open war started in October 1972. On 24 June 1978, a peace envoy from South Yemen, which had a communist orientation, assassinated northern President Al-Ghashmi with a bomb hidden in his briefcase.
On 17 July 1978, Saleh was elected by the Parliament to be the president of the republic, chief of staff and commander in chief of the armed forces. On December 1997, parliament approved his promotion to field marshal after he restored a Yemeni island from Eritrea through diplomatic means. Saleh now is the highest ranking military officer in Yemen. He also waged a war on the Houthis in the north in 2004, resulting in the death of more than ten thousand people.
2011 Yemeni protests
In late 2010 and early 2011, protesters demanded Saleh end his three-decade long rule because of his lack of democratic reform, widespread corruption and human rights abuses carried out by Saleh, his family members and close allies. On 2 February 2011, Saleh announced that he would not seek reelection in 2013, but would finish out his term. In response to the government violence against unarmed protesters, eleven MPs of his party resigned on 23 February. By 5 March this number had increased to 13, along with two deputy ministers. On 10 March Saleh announced a referendum on a new constitution, separating the executive and legislative powers. On March 18, at least 52 people were killed by government forces and over 200 injured, when unarmed demonstrators were fired upon on the university square. The president claimed that security forces weren't even on location and blamed local residents for the massacre.
Saleh fired his entire Cabinet on 20 March 2011. Saleh asked them to remain as a caretaker cabinet until he forms a new government. In March 22, 2011, Saleh warned that any attempt at overthrowing him would result in civil war
See also: 2011 Yemeni protests