Ex-Yemen president packing for Ethiopia

Ex-Yemen president packing for Ethiopia

SANAA, Yemen
Ex-Yemen president packing for Ethiopia

Ex-President Saleh (R) hands over power to the newly-elected Hadi. AP photo

Aides to Ali Abdullah Saleh said yesterday that the ousted Yemeni president plans to go into exile in Ethiopia, as pressures mounted on him to depart the country for fear of sparking new cycles of violence.

The aides said that the former president will leave Yemen within two days along with some of his family members where he will reside in a villa in the suburb of Addis Ababa. Aides said that visas have been issued and Saleh’s belongings already shipped to Ethiopia. Witnesses who went inside the presidential palace yesterday said that a whole hall that used to display precious souvenirs, antiques, golden watches, guns, hunting rifles and other paraphernalia collected under Saleh’s regime, was bare yesterday.

‘Even alcohol removed’

A senior army officer and a presidency employee told the Associated Press that the commander of the Presidential Guards, who is also Saleh’s nephew, has ordered his guards to move all the antiques to an undisclosed location. Another employee said that even alcohol which Saleh used to serve to his western visitors have also been carried away.

Officials said that Saleh came under heavy pressures from Western and Arab countries to leave the country, upon repeated requests by the newly elected president and transitional government to prevent Saleh from staying in Yemen.

Farewell ceremony

Newly inaugurated President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was sworn in as president Feb. 25 following an election aimed at ending more than a year of political turmoil in Yemen. In a farewell ceremony yesterday, Saleh and Hadi appeared for the first time next to each other. They pledged to lay the foundation for a peaceful power transition.

According to the deal that saw Saleh agree to leave office, within two years a new president and a new parliament are to be elected and a new constitution should be in place. But the ceremony did not sit well with many Yemenis who would rather see Saleh prosecuted. Chants rang out in the streets of Sanaa and in front of Hadi’s house as tens of thousands of Yemenis called for Saleh’s prosecution.