By Shane McGinley
President Ali Abdullah Saleh confirmed he will step down in 2013, following mass unrest
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh confirmed on Wednesday he will not seek to extend his presidency in a move that would bring an end to a three-decade rule when his current term expires in 2013.
"No extension, no inheritance, no resetting the clock," Saleh said, speaking ahead of a planned large rally due on Thursday in Sanaa that has been dubbed a ‘day of rage.’
Thousands of Yemenis took to the capital’s streets last week to demand a change of government. At least 10,000 protesters gathered at Sanaa University and around 6,000 more elsewhere in Sanaa, to demand improvements in living conditions and political change.
Yemen, in the shadow of the world's top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, is struggling with soaring unemployment and dwindling oil and water reserves.
Almost half its 23 million people live on $2 a day or less and a third suffer from chronic hunger.
Saleh has tried to calm discontent, proposing constitutional amendments including presidential term limits with two terms of five or seven years. He had also promised to raise the salary of all civil servants and military personal by at least $47 a month.
His decision to step down as a result of growing civilian unrest follows in the footstep of similar actions by leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan.
On Tuesday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak confirmed that he will end his 30 years in power in September following over a week of protests and riots on the streets of Cairo.
Protests in Jordan also led to the resignation of the prime minister on Tuesday, with King Abdullah sacking his cabinet.
The events in Yemen, Egypt and Jordan were sparked by protests and riots in Tunisia, which led to the ousting of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who subsequently fled to Saudi Arabia.