Yemen’s outgoing leader Ali Abdullah Saleh unexpectedly returned home Saturday night hours after his deputy issued his first decree scheduling a date for a snap presidential election.
Saleh’s return puts an end to rumours that the departing president might leave for New York or stay in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. Earlier, government media confirmed that Saleh’s return was to oversee the implementation of the GCC deal which he approved.
Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Saleh’s replacement, called on Saturday for a presidential election to be held on February 21 next year, putting into action one of the terms of the GCC-brokered accord to end the crisis in Yemen.
“The decree stipulates the early presidential election will be conducted under the management and supervision of the current Supreme Committee for Elections and Referendum [SCER], the election law and electoral roll,” the Saba News Agency (Saba) reported.
The opposition coalition parties named Mohammad Salim Basindouh, a septuagenarian veteran politician, to be their nominee to head the unity government.
Also, Hadi received a call from the chief counter-terrorism advisor to US President Barack Obama, John Brennan, who congratulated Hadi on the approval of the deal and expressed US willingness to support Yemen to recover from the repercussions of the crisis.
According to Saba, the American official told Hadi that the US would stand by the Yemen government in its war against Al Qaida, adding that America would also directly sponsor the implementation of the deal.
Meanwhile, two civilians were killed yesterday in clashes between government forces and armed tribesmen in Taez, a protest activist told Gulf News.
“They used all kinds of weapons. Despite our objection to the GCC deal, it has zero effect on the ground.”
Thousands of anti-regime protesters took to the city’s streets in protest at the deal that gives Saleh and his family immunity from prosecution.
Local media reported government warplanes targeted rebellious armed tribesmen in Arhab, Nehem and other areas near Sana’a.