Friday, February 4, 2011

Put words to action, Obama tells Yemen

Observed by: Mr. Alaa Isam

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Washington welcomes political reforms promised this week in Yemen but stresses that pledges must be followed by concrete action, the White House said.

Protests continued in Yemen this week despite pledges by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh that he wouldn't seek another term in office during elections set for 2013.

Political unrest is spilling over across the Middle East after a protest suicide sparked a revolution that brought down the government n Tunisia.

In an address to the Yemeni people this week, Saleh said "no to hereditary rule" and promised political reforms.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with the Yemeni president, urging him to "follow up his pledge with concrete actions," a White House statement read.

Anti-government demonstrators complained there was a "monopoly of power" in the Yemeni capital, while backers of Saleh, the only president of an independent Yemen, praised their leader for reaching out to the opposition.

Obama, the White House said, asked the Yemeni president to keep his security forces in check while Yemeni demonstrators exercised "their right to free association, assembly and speech."

Yemeni protests were described as relatively peaceful. At least eight people were killed this week in the political unrest in Egypt.

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