Yemen president out of hospital, stays in Saudi

AFP , Sunday 7 Aug 2011

Saudi official claims that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has left hospital in the Kingdom's capital of Riyadh after being treated and is recuperating in a temporary residence

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh (Photo:Reuters)

Yemeni Ali Abdullah Saleh has left hospital in Riyadh, two months after he was badly wounded in a bomb attack as his forces waged a deadly crackdown on protesters, a Saudi official said on Sunday.

"The Yemeni president left the military hospital this (Saturday) evening at 9pm (1800 GMT) after receiving the necessary treatment and was taken to a temporary residence for a recovery period," the Saudi official told AFP.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not say how long Saleh would stay on in the kingdom, which neighbours Yemen where an uprising against his rule broke out at the end of January.

Yemen's junior information minister, Abdo al-Janadi, declined to confirm Saleh's release from hospital, saying the president was "following his treatment" in the Saudi capital.

"When his doctors allow him to return, he will return," Janadi said.

Saleh was admitted to a Saudi military hospital a day after the 3 June attack on a mosque in his presidential compound in Sanaa. Eleven people were killed and 124 others wounded, among them senior officials.

An informed Yemeni source in Riyadh said Saleh was now convalescing in a Saudi government palace.

"Saleh has left hospital after his health conditions improved and is staying at the Conferences Palace in Riyadh, but he still has problems with his legs," he told AFP, requesting anonymity.

He said Prime Minister Ali Mujawar, who was also hit in the attack, "remains in hospital .. and is expected to leave within a couple of days," while Yemen's Consultative Council head, Abdulaziz Abdulghani, was still in "intensive care."

Saleh appeared on television on July 7 for the first time since the bombing, covered in bandages.

Yemen's veteran leader accused "elements of terrorism" of having targeted him in the bomb attack, without specifying the identity of the assailants.

Three days later, he was shown on television receiving John Brennan, US President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism adviser. Saleh was in better shape than in his earlier appearance, although burns on his face were still visible.

The White House said Brennan called on Saleh to sign a transition plan sponsored by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council that would see him cede power within 30 days in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Since Saleh's departure to Saudi Arabia, Yemeni Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has assumed power in Sanaa but without being designated as de facto head of state.

The opposition, meanwhile, has called for the creation of an interim council, to prevent the return of Saleh who has defiantly clung onto power.

Saleh has ruled Yemen since 1978 and worked closely with the United States in fighting Al-Qaeda, but cooperation has been sharply curtailed this year due to the turmoil in the country.

Yemeni security forces and government supporters have carried out deadly attacks on protesters, while opposition tribesmen have battled government forces in Sanaa and elsewhere and some military units have defected to the opposition.

Influential tribal leaders formed a coalition last month headed by tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar to bolster the uprising against Saleh that has cost at least 200 lives.

Saleh first took power at the height of the Cold War as leader of North Yemen in 1978, and in 1990 he successfully steered the country to unification with the communist South.

He has survived a string of crises, including Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 after which Saudi Arabia hit Yemen with economic sanctions for having sided with the Iraqi dictator.

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