Timeline: Saleh’s 32-year rule in Yemen

(Reuters) – Here is a timeline of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32-year rule in Yemen:

July 1978 – Saleh takes power in then-North Yemen.

February 1979 – Saleh crushes an attempt to overthrow him.

May 1990 – Pro-Western North Yemen and socialist South Yemen merge after 300 years of separation to form a new republic dominating the strategic entrance to the Red Sea.

— North Yemeni leader Saleh proclaims unification in Aden after the parliaments of both states elect him president.

July 1994 – North Yemen declares the almost three-month Yemeni civil war over after gaining control of Aden, its southern foe’s last bastion.

— Sanaa declares that former vice-president Ali Salem al-Baidh and his supporters who tried to secede from a four-year merger with the north have been defeated, assuring unity.

October 2000 – The bombing of USS Cole in Aden harbor kills 17 sailors and blows a hole in the navy vessel’s hull.

November 2001 – Saleh declares support for U.S. President George W. Bush’s “war on terror.”

February 2008 – Fragile truce is signed with North Yemen’s Houthis, a Zaidi Shi’ite tribe, but the four-year revolt soon resumes in the northwest region of Saada. Saleh unilaterally declares war over in July 2008. Full-scale fighting resumes a year later.

January 2009 – Al Qaeda’s Yemeni and Saudi wings merge in a new group called al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), led by Nasser al-Wahayshi.

January 2010 – Meeting of Western and Gulf foreign ministers in London aims to bolster Yemen’s fight against al Qaeda.

February 2010 – Yemen and northern Shi’ite rebels agree to a truce aimed at ending the war.

February 3, 2011 – A day of anti-government protests brings more than 20,000 people onto the streets in Sanaa.

March 2, 2011 – The opposition presents Saleh with a plan for smooth transition of power, offering him a graceful exit.

— Saleh says he will draw up a new constitution to create a parliamentary system of government. An opposition spokesman swiftly rejects the proposal.

March 18 – Snipers kill 52 protesters among crowds that flocked to a sit-in at Sanaa University after Friday prayers. The killings prompt Saleh to declare a state of emergency.

March 20 – Saleh fires his government.

March 21 – Senior army commanders say they have switched support to pro-democracy activists, including Saleh ally General Ali Mohsen, commander of the northwest military zone.

March 23 – Saleh offers to step down by the end of 2011. He also proposes to hold a referendum on a new constitution, then a parliamentary election and presidential vote.

March 25 – Saleh says he is ready to cede power to stop more bloodshed in Yemen, but only to what he calls “safe hands” as thousands rally against him in “Day of Departure” protests.

March 29 – Saleh holds talks with Mohammed al-Yadoumi, head of the Islamist Islah party, once a partner in his government.

— At the talks Saleh makes a new offer, proposing he stays in office until elections are held but transferring his powers to a caretaker government, an opposition source says.

— The opposition promptly rejects this offer, calling it “an attempt to prolong the survival of the regime.”

March 31 – Thousands of Yemenis commemorate around 82 people who have been killed in the protests demanding Saleh resign.

April 1 – Saleh tells a huge rally of supporters that he will sacrifice everything for his country, suggesting he has no plans to step down yet.

— Anti-Saleh protesters name the day a “Friday of enough” while loyalists branded it a “Friday of brotherhood.” April 2 – The opposition proposes a five-point plan whereby the army and security forces will be restructured by a vice-president acting as temporary president.

April 4 – Police open fire on protesters in Taiz, killing at least 12 people and wounding 30, hospital sources said.

April 6 – Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani says the GCC will strike a deal for Saleh to leave.

April 7 – The Gulf Arab plan for Saleh to step down will guarantee him immunity from prosecution, an opposition source says, but youth activists say this plan should be rejected.

April 8 – Pro-democracy protesters hold a “Friday of firmness” in Sanaa, shouting “You’re next, you leader of the corrupt.” — Fresh clashes break out in Taiz as hundreds of protesters clash with police. Two protesters are shot dead.

(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit, editing by Andrew Heavens)

Timeline: Saleh’s 32-year rule in Yemen