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Yemen's President Saleh to convene parliament today

President Ali Abdullah Saleh is expected to address a special meeting of parliament and the consultative council called just before a 'day of rage' that civil society organisations have called for tomorrow.

SANA'A // Yemen's president, facing protests demanding his resignation, has called a meeting of the country's parliament and consultative council for today, 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 tomorrow.

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

Mr Saleh, who is facing protests that have multiplied since the ousting last month of Tunisia's president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after a wave of demonstrations there, 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 per cent 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 Mr Ben Ali.

Mr 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.

He also 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.

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