February 3, 2012
SANA’A: As news circulated that Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh had elected the Ritz-Carlton in New York as his residence of choice while in the Big Apple, dozens of protesters gathered in front of the luxurious hotel, decrying the presence of whom they are now calling “the butcher of Yemen,” demanding that he be held accountable for his many crimes.
Since the Parliament passed a immunity bill giving Saleh, his family members and long standing political allies a “free get out of jail card” for their years of service, the embattled president decided that it was time for him to seek much needed medical treatment in the United States.
Since an attack on his presidential compound last year, which left him severely burnt and injured, Saleh has been suffering from ill health.
After a near miss and much controversy, Saleh was finally allowed to travel to the US, given that he keeps his visit brief and strictly “medical.”
The Yemeni-American Coalition for Change, a group which from the very beginning of the uprising worked at mobilizing the international community and kept a detailed account of the crimes committed by the regime to ensure that the culprits would be brought to justice, said they were disappointed with President Barack Obama’s decision to allow Saleh to step on American soil.
Summer Nasser, a young woman activist and blogger said that by allowing Saleh to travel to the US, the White House was clearly sending the wrong message to dictators around the world.
“The US chose to side with a dictator,” she said.
Other activists present all agreed that Obama had failed to uphold the very principles America was standing for, democracy, freedom and fight again tyranny.
Although Saleh’s office tried to deny the rumors saying that the President’s New York address had not yet been confirmed, a spokesman for the coalition government back in Yemen revealed that several people who had visited Saleh confirmed that he was indeed staying at the Ritz-Carlton.
Despite being away from Yemen, Saleh’ shadow is still hovering over the country, with many acts of violence being committed on his behalf as loyalists are still hoping for his return in power.