Monday, January 23, 2012

World Bank back in Yemen after Saleh's departure

January 23, 2012

The World Bank announced Monday it has reopened its Yemen office and resumed aid, saying the security situation had improved as embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would step aside.

The World Bank lifted the suspension of aid, set on July 28 as political violence mounted in the capital Sana'a and elsewhere, "as a direct result of the improving security situation in Sana'a and the establishment of the new national unity government."

The announcement came a day after Saleh signaled he would step down from the presidency and then left the country to seek medical treatment in the United States.

"We are committed to helping Yemen overcome its social and economic challenges in ways that have direct impact on improving people's living standards and opportunities in areas such as education, health, employment and governance," said David Craig, the Bank's country director for Yemen.

"The messages from the streets and squares of the country have been very clear: accountable and transparent government responsive to the needs of all citizens. At the Bank, we too will continue and deepen our dialogue with civil society."

At the time of suspension the bank had $882 million committed to 21 projects in Yemen, with $542 million undisbursed.

On Sunday Saleh delivered a dramatic farewell speech apparently marking the end of his rule, appealing for forgiveness from the Yemeni people for "any shortcomings" during his 33 years in power.

He said he would return to Yemen but not as president, implying he intends to implement a Gulf-brokered plan for a transition from his rule.

Parliament on Saturday adopted a law approving Saleh's long-time deputy, Vice President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi, as the consensus candidate in the February election to succeed him.

Saleh is stepping aside after months of near daily mass protests calling for his resignation.

The deadlock threw Yemen into chaos and shattered its already weak economy. In recent days, a series of mutinies rocked the armed forces and anti-corruption strikes spread across several government departments.

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