Yemen`s Saleh formally steps down after 33 years

Yemen`s Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down after 33 years at the helm.

Sanaa: Yemen`s Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped
down after 33 years at the helm on Monday at a ceremony at the
presidential palace in Sanaa, formally handing power over to
his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.

"I hand over the banner of revolution... to safe hands,"
said Saleh, the fourth veteran Arab leader to fall in just
over a year, standing beside Hadi.

Yemen`s new president will serve for an interim two-year
period as stipulated by a Gulf-brokered power transition plan
signed by Saleh last November.

Hadi, meanwhile, cautioned that the past year of political
turmoil that has crippled the economy and unleashed nationwide
insecurity was not over yet, and appealed to Yemenis to
"cooperate with the new leadership" to help the country emerge
from the crisis.

He said he hoped that at the end of his two years in
office, Yemen could have a peaceful transition of power.

"I hope we will meet in this room again... to bid farewell
and welcome a new leadership," Hadi said. "I hope that in two
years, I will stand in President Ali Abdullah Saleh`s place
and a new president will stand in mine."

Hadi took the oath of office in front of Yemen`s
parliament on Saturday, and in his first speech as new leader,
vowed to fight against al Qaeda and restore security across
his impoverished nation.

"It is a patriotic and religious duty to continue the
battle against al Qaeda," he said. "If we don`t restore
security, the only outcome will be chaos."

Hadi was elected in a February 21 presidential poll in
which he received 99.8 per cent of the votes cast in an
election that saw a 60 per cent nationwide turnout.