Yemen's Saleh hands over power to new president

Yemen's Saleh hands over power to new president

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh Monday marked the end of his 33-year rule in the Middle East nation by formally handing over power to newly-elected president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Xinhua reported.

The formal power transfer was held in the presidential palace in the capital Sana'a.The short ceremony was attended by high-ranked local and foreign officials, including visiting secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council Abdullatif al-Zayani, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi and UN envoy to Yemen Jamal bin Omar.

Saleh, who stepped down after a year of protests, promised to stand by Hadi who was endorsed for a two-year interim term after he obtained more than 99 percent of votes in the Feb 21 presidential election.

"The security of Yemen is part of the security of the region," Saleh said, and urged the international community to back his successor's efforts to rebuild the country.

"Today, we are laying a new base for the peaceful transfer of power," he said.

Saleh wore gloves on his hands which were injured in a bomb attack on his palace in June last year. He went for treatment in Saudi Arabia and the US.

Saleh returned to Sana'a Saturday after completing nearly a month of medical treatment in New York.

Hadi expressed his appreciation for Saleh.

"The crisis is complicated and difficult and needs the cooperation of all the honourable people," Hadi said.

"I hope that we meet after two years to say goodbye to my leadership and receive a new leadership," he said.

The ceremony was boycotted by the opposition coalition, including the transitional government's prime minister Mohamed Basindwa.

The election was part of a UN-backed power transfer deal brokered by neighbouring oil-rich Gulf countries. It was agreed to by Saleh and the opposition coalition in November to end the massive protests in the country.

In a TV speech Saturday, the new president vowed to carry out reforms during his transitional term, to open a national dialogue with all political factions in Yemen, and to continue the battle against Al Qaeda.