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08 December 2023

Yemen president to convene parliament ahead of demo


Yemen's president, facing protests demanding his resignation, has called a meeting of the country's parliament and consultative council for Wednesday, an official said.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh is expected to address the special meeting ahead of a "day of rage" that civil society organisations have called for Thursday.

The official gave no details on the expected substance of Saleh's remarks.

Facing protests that have multiplied since the mid-January ouster of Tunisia's president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali following a wave of demonstrations there, Saleh has taken measures aimed at soothing popular discontent.

On Monday, he ordered the creation of a fund to employ university graduates and extend social security coverage, the official Saba news agency reported.

The fund aims to help 25 percent of university graduates facing unemployment this year and the remainder in the future. But the agency did not specify the budget allocated to the fund or how graduates would be employed.

Unemployment was a key issue in the protests that toppled Ben Ali.

Saleh also decided to exempt university students from the rest of their tuition fees for this academic year, and charged the high council of universities to reduce the cost of a degree, Saba said.

And he directed that "social security services be extended to 500,000 more people from needy families," Saba said.

A governing body of Saleh's General People's Congress party recently called for a resumption of dialogue with opposition parties, which are currently at an impasse.

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, faces a growing Al-Qaeda threat, a secessionist movement in the south and a sporadic revolt by Zaidi Shiites in the north.