Monday, February 27, 2012

Yemenis march to demand ex-president's prosecution

February 27, 2012
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Tens of thousands of Yemenis are protesting in the capital Sanaa demanding prosecution of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Chanting, "The people want to prosecute the murderer," angry protesters gathered Monday in front of house of newly inaugurated President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
On Saturday, Hadi was sworn in as president as part of a power-transfer deal that gave Saleh immunity from prosecution in exchange for stepping down.
Hundreds of street protesters died in crackdowns by the security forces and other violence during a year of political turmoil.
The protesters on Saturday were angered by a farewell ceremony for Saleh in which he pledged to support the new president.

Immigration mix-up leaves NYC man with no country

Feb. 27, 2012
NEW YORK (WTW) — A New York man who came from Yemen as a child has lost his U.S. citizenship because of what the State Department says was a bureaucratic error when he got it.
The New York Times ( ) reports that the recently discovered blunder has left Abdo Hizam without a country.
Hizam moved to Dearborn, Mich. in 1990 at age 9. He gave up his Yemeni citizenship, graduated from high school and earned a business degree. He now lives in the Bronx and works at a store.
But last year the State Department told Hizam that he had received his citizenship in 1990 "due to department error."
Hizam has filed a lawsuit demanding that the U.S. government affirm his citizenship and reissue his passport.
U.S. officials said they could not comment.

Saleh hands 'difficult phase' over to new Yemen

February 27, 2012
SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen's new president took over on Monday from Ali Abdullah Saleh, his predecessor of 33 years, saying the impoverished Arab state faced a "complex and difficult phase" after a year of violent political turmoil over Saleh's fate.
Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office after elections last week in which he was the sole candidate to replace Saleh, the target of mass protests that came to be matched by open warfare among rival wings of Yemen's military and tribal militias.
"We stand before a complex and difficult phase," Hadi said at his inauguration, standing beside Saleh, who later handed him the Yemeni flag.
"The Yemeni people who turned out in their millions for early elections have sent a clear message of their desire for security and stability and change for the better. Today...we receive a new leadership and we bid farewell to a leadership," he added.
The U.S.-backed power transfer plan was hammered out by Yemen's wealthy Gulf Arab neighbors, eager to anti-Saleh protests that paralyzed the country for most of 2011.
Opposition parties that hold half the seats in a government intended to see the country through the writing of a new constitution before parliamentary elections in 2014 boycotted the ceremony, in part over Saleh's presence, party figures said.
Those parties have been criticized by protest leaders for taking part in a deal that leaves Saleh's relatives in positions of strong influence, as well as for signing on to a law granting Saleh and his aides immunity from prosecution.
Hadi vowed to see the transition through and stand aside, saying: "In two years I hope to be standing where Ali Abdullah Saleh is now, with a new president will be standing where I am."
Months of weakened central government control have been exploited by a regional wing of al Qaeda, which has expanded its foothold in the south of the country near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea.
A suicide bombing for which the militant network claimed responsibility killed at least 26 people on Saturday, hours after Hadi was sworn in as president.
"We call on all the sons of the nation to stand together alongside the political leadership ... I call for national solidarity to confront terrorism, principally al-Qaeda," said Saleh, who returned to Yemen last week from the United States.
Saleh has said he will stay on the political scene as leader of his General People's Congress (GPC) party, casting doubt on his commitment to relinquishing power.
Yemenis gathered outside the new president's house on Monday demanding Saleh and his relatives be distanced from the military and security services, where they lead key units.
"We came here to stress that the revolution is ongoing and to demand its second goal be achieved, namely the restructuring of the armed forces and the distancing of Saleh and his relatives from leadership of military and security units," said Adel Abdullah, one of the protest organizers.
"We elected Abd-Rabbu (Hadi) to be president of Yemen, not to be an employee of Saleh."

Aides: Yemen's Saleh to seek exile in Ethiopia

Associated Press
February 27, 2012
SANAA, Yemen - Aides to Ali Abdullah Saleh said Monday 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. Other family members have already left to the United Arab Emirates.
A diplomat in Sanaa confirmed that arrangements had been made for Saleh's departure for Ethiopia. Aides said that visas have been issued and Saleh's belongings already shipped to Ethiopia. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Witnesses who went inside the presidential palace Monday 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 on Monday.
A senior army officer and a presidency employee told AP 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.
Newly inaugurated President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was sworn in as president on Saturday following an election aimed at ending more than a year of political turmoil in Yemen. Hadi was the only candidate in the vote. A Gulf-proposed and U.S. backed power-transfer deal gave Saleh immunity from prosecution in exchange for stepping down.
During a meeting in Sanaa with John O. Brennan, President Obama's chief counterterrorism advisor the night before the election, Prime Minister Mohammed Basindwa told Brennan, "Saleh's return to the country means another war." That is according to a senior Yemeni official with knowledge of the meeting.
The prime minister was also quoted as telling Brennan, "we have given concessions, and we are not ready to give more," in reference to giving Saleh immunity from prosecution.
Basindwa, according to the Yemeni official, has pleaded for U.S. intervention to force Saleh to leave.
Other Yemeni officials said that members of the U.N. Security Council threatened to freeze Saleh and his family's assets if he did not leave. They didn't name the member states but one said, "after days of maneuvering, he accepted."
The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa declined to comment and the Ethiopian Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.
Saleh's erratic behavior has been a major source of uncertainty throughout Yemen's last year of turmoil.
He slipped out of signing the accord for the power handover accord three times before finally agreeing to it.
His opponents fear that if he remains in the country he will be able to exert control through his powerful network of well-placed family members and allies.
Saleh left Yemen in June after being injured in a rocket attack on his palace. He received medical treatment in neighboring Saudi Arabia for three months.
The United States, which has pushed for stability in Yemen for fear that al-Qaida will extend its influence there, had hoped he would remain in the Gulf. But the Yemeni leader returned home and violence worsened anew.
Three weeks ago Saleh went to the United States for more medical treatment, and again it was hoped that he would remain abroad. But he returned Saturday for Hadi's inauguration.
Saleh's aides said that he was waiting for an answer from the Gulf sultanate of Oman on whether he can live there but the sultanate has not responded to his request.
Saleh stayed in Muscat in January for some days before he left to the U.S. for treatment, and Yemeni officials raised the possibility at the time that he would eventually seek exile in Oman, which borders Yemen to the east.
In a farewell ceremony on Monday, Saleh and Hadi appeared for the first time next to each other. They pledged to lay the foundation for a peaceful power transition.
"Two years from now, I will stand in the same place to transfer power to (another) newly elected president," Hadi addressed the gathering. Saleh then passed a Yemeni flag to his successor.
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. The image of Saleh and his successor standing side by side sparked protests on the streets.
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.
"This is a provocation to the Yemeni people," said Abdu al-Udaimi, a spokesman for the anti-Saleh protest movement. "As if Saleh claims he is stepping down voluntarily."