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Hadi replaces Saleh as Yemen president

Sanaa, February 25, 2012

Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took the constitutional oath to become Yemen's new president on Saturday, formally removing Ali Abdullah Saleh from power after a year of protests that paralysed the impoverished Arabian Peninsular country.

Hadi, who stood as the sole candidate to replace Saleh in a power transfer deal brokered by Gulf neighbours and backed by Western powers, was voted in after more than 60 percent of eligible voters had taken part in an election this week.

Saleh's departure makes him the fourth Arab autocrat to be removed from power in more than a year of mass uprisings that have redrawn the political map of the Middle East.

After taking the oath, Hadi said in a speech that Yemen must draw a line under the crisis and tackle pressing issues such as Yemen's economic problems and bringing those displaced by the crisis back to their homes.

'If we don't deal with challenges practically, then chaos will reign,' Hadi said.

Yemen's richer neighbours, led by Saudi Arabia, crafted the power transfer, also backed by Washington and a UN Security Council resolution, to ease out Saleh, who had ruled Yemen for 33 years. There are fears that chaos in Yemen could empower the country's branch of al Qaeda near major oil shipping routes.

Hadi now is tasked with overseeing a proposed two-year political transition that envisions parliamentary elections, a new constitution and restructuring of the military in which Saleh's son and nephew still hold power.

The international community described the oath as a key step forward.

'Yemenis want an end to the crisis, and to turn a new page. Now it's time to rebuild, for consensus and concord... and to bring people into an inclusive political process,' said Jamal Benomar, UN envoy to Yemen.

The US ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein, said: 'We are seeing the beginning of a process that I believe will deliver great results over the next two years.'

Hadi's inauguration ceremony is scheduled for Monday, which Saleh is to attend. Saleh returned to Yemen on Friday after seeking treatment in the United States for injuries suffered in a assassination attempt last year.

A high election turnout was deemed crucial to Hadi's legitimacy, but the vote was rejected in advance in wide swathes of the country, notably the south, where secessionists urged a boycott.

One of the poorest countries in the Middle East, Yemen had already been fractured before the revolt against Saleh's rule, with separatists in the south, Shi'ite rebels in the north and an active wing of al Qaeda.

Some 42 percent of the population of 23 million live on less than $2 per day in a land where tribal loyalties remain central to society.

'If Abd-Rabbu Hadi doesn't rein in the mashayikh (tribal notables) then we'd be better off with Ali Abdullah Saleh,' said Amin al-Sharaby, 24, after gunmen loyal to a tribal leader scuffled with bystanders outside door of parliament, and beat a man with the butts of their rifles.-Reuters




Tags: Saudi | power | Saleh | Hadi | Yemen president |

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