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Yemen president vows not to run again

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Yemen president vows not to run again
QAT2000111101 - 11 NOVEMBER 2000 - DOHA, QATAR: The Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani (right) greets Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh upon his arrival Doha International Airport November 11, 2000 for the 9th Islamic Summit in Doha, Qatar. bc/Qatar New Agency UPI. | License Photo

SANAA, Yemen, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Wednesday he would not run for re-election or pass the presidency to his son.

Saleh, a U.S. ally whose term is set to end in 2013, told an emergency Parliament session he would also cancel plans for a controversial constitutional amendment to allow him to remain president for life.

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"I make this compromise today for the sake of the country," Saleh said."Yemen's interests come before personal interests."

Opposition leaders and activists rejected Saleh's promise as insufficient, demanded he resign now and urged their supporters to take part in renewed mass protests called a "day of rage" planned for Thursday.

The country witnessed the largest demonstrations of Saleh's 32-year regime last week.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Tuesday night he would step down when his term expires in the fall -- a concession also rejected by the opposition and activists, who clashed with Mubarak supporters in Cairo Wednesday.

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Syrian activists called for a day of rage in Damascus Friday. Using Facebook and Twitter, organizers demanded the government "end the state of emergency in Syria and end corruption." Syria has been ruled under a state of emergency since 1963.

The opposition in Jordan also said it would organize new mass protests Friday to show its opposition to the new prime minister's appointment.

The Islamic Action Front, the political wing of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, said Maruf Bakhit, 64, who was also Jordan's prime minister from 2005 to 2007, was the wrong person to initiate democratic reforms and rein in surging poverty and unemployment.

The country's largest opposition political group called for Bakhit to step down. It also said it wanted the prime minister selected by popular elections, not by the king.

Bakhit -- appointed Tuesday by King Abdullah II with a mandate to introduce "true political reforms" after weeks of street protests -- met with Jordanian Senate President Taher Masri Wednesday to discuss political and economic reforms, Jordan's semi-official Petra News Agency reported.

Separately, a cousin of Morocco's King Mohammed VI said anti-government violence would soon reach his country.

Prince Moulay Hicham told the Spanish daily El Pais his country, on the Atlantic and Mediterranean south of Spain, had so far avoided anti-government protests, "but make no mistake -- nearly all the authoritarian systems will be affected by the protest wave."

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"It remains to be seen whether the revolt will be just social or also political, and if the political parties act under the influence of the recent events," said Moulay, 46, third in line to the throne.

He is nicknamed the "red prince" because of his leftist criticism of Morocco's monarchy.

Morocco is unlikely to suffer the same sort of protests as Egypt and Tunisia, at least for now, credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings said. Fitch put a "negative" outlook on Egypt Friday.

Egypt's unrest may spread to Algeria, Standard & Poor's said Wednesday.

Algeria warned anti-government organizers against staging a massive opposition protest planned for this month, saying they would be to blame if the demonstration turns violent. Demonstrations are banned in the capital after early January's violent protests.

A third Algerian died from self-immolation Monday.

At the same time, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is reported considering high-level Cabinet changes after more demonstrations were promised.

His changes could involve promoting Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi to prime minister, replacing Ahmed Ouyahia,The Wall Street Journal reported.

In Libya, growing numbers of people "are waiting for an occasion to take to the streets," particularly in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, "where opposition to the Gadhafi regime is strongest," the independent Afrol News agency reported.

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Anticipating unrest, three of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi's sons are jockeying to replace their father, the agency said.

Saif al-Islam Moammar Gadhafi, 38, is viewed as the "most realistic" successor to the elder Gadhafi, Libya's de facto leader since a 1969 coup. But the elder Gadhafi "depends more on his two conservative sons to control national security forces in possible clashes with the population," Afrol News said.

"Both are preparing for such a confrontation, which would give them an upper hand in Libya's succession struggle," it said.

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