By Hunter Walker
February 6, 2012
Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh faced off with protesters yesterday outside his hotel, the Ritz Carlton on Central Park South. Mr. Saleh came to the United States last month to seek medical treatment after signing a deal in November allowing him immunity from prosecution if he transferred power to his vice president in the wake of months of bloody protests against his regime.
Protesters gathered outside the Ritz yesterday afternoon and greeted Mr. Saleh with photos of some of the hundreds of people killed during the demonstrations against his administration that began during last year’s “Arab Spring.” Police fended off one man who attempted to “charge” Mr. Saleh. Another protester threw a shoe at the former head of state as he departed the hotel. The shoe-thrower was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Mr. Saleh responded to the protests by waving and blowing kisses. His motorcade eventually took him off to an undisclosed location. Mr. Saleh is being treated for injuries he suffered in a rocket attack during the protests preceding his decision to step down.
Mr. Saleh’s reign in Yemen lasted over three decades. Yemeni diplomats say he will return home after a new president is elected next month. Under the agreement that gave him immunity, Mr. Saleh remains Yemen’s “honorary president” until a new leader is sworn in.