Monday, February 27, 2012

Yemen on the way to the unknown as Saleh hands power to his second in command

 Saleh (r) and his successor during the ceremony in Sana'a.

 Outgoing Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Monday formally handed over power to his former vice-president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to replace him after 33 years of one-man rule. 
It was the last act in a transition process that had been engineered by the Gulf states and the US, and that according to many is nothing but a farce. Saleh handed Hadi a Yemeni flag, which he called the "banner of the revolution" and wished him success. "The responsibilities on the shoulders of the new president are immense, but we are confident that with our support he will succeed," he said.
Hadi already took the oath of office on Saturday, after he had received 99 per cent of the votes cast in an election, earlier in the week,  whereby he was the only candidate. According to the government some 6,6 million Yemenis of the 14 million that were entitled to participate, took part. About 25,000 ballots were invalid, the government said.

While the ceremony took place, tens of thousands of Yemenis were protesting in San'a, demanding the prosecution of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was granted immunity under the transition deal. "The people want to prosecute the murderer," they chanted in front of the house of newly inaugurated president Hadi.

The US has welcomed the transition as a new beginning for Yemen. According to most analysts, however, it is a transition to the unknown, or rather not even a transition at all. The democratisation of the country has yet to begin. The hard core of the army is still in the hands of the sons and other relatives of Ali Abdullah Saleh. The same goes for the security services. The country is highly divided, with a rebellion by the Houthis in the North and a strong movement in the South that seeks to divide the country anew, as it feels that the South is being exploited by the government in Sana'a. Some people pointed to the fact that Abd-Rabbu Hadi himself is from the south, which could be a an advantage when he seeks to restore the unity. They forget, however, that Hadi played his part as an officer in the 90-ties in delivering the south to Ali Abdullah Saleh. 

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