Last updated: 8 February, 2012

Yemen’s Saleh to return to vote

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in New York for medical treatment after agreeing to step down following months of protests, will return to vote in presidential polls, a member of his party and state media said Wednesday.

“He will return and the General People’s Congress party wants him back to attend and supervise the elections, and to peacefully hand power over,” Abdo al-Janadi, a member of Saleh’s GPC party, told reporters.

State news agency Saba reported on Tuesday that Saleh had told visitors he would “participate” in the on February 21, in which Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi is the sole candidate.

He said he is in “good health,” it added.

US officials had said Saleh would not return to Yemen until after the referendum-like election, stipulated by a Gulf plan to confirm Hadi as a president for a two-year term.

Meanwhile, dozens of women protested outside the US embassy in Sanaa against what they said was an attack on Saleh in New York, where he has been since late January for medical treatment for injuries from a June bomb blast.

“We demand that the United States apologise to Saleh as he has immunity and US authorities must protect him,” said Najat al-Wajra, a protest organiser.

A video posted on Youtube this week showed Saleh outside what looks like his hotel in New York surrounded by bodyguards blowing kisses amid loud chants, by what appears to be protesters gathered on the other side of the street, demanding his trial.

AFP could not immediately verify the authenticity of the video.

“Saleh hold your head up high, the Yemeni people are your guards,” chanted the women as they waved Saleh’s pictures and Yemeni flags.

“We are the president’s supporters. (Yemen is) not Egypt or Tunisia,” they shouted, referring to the two Arab countries where uprisings forced their autocratic leaders out of office.

On November 23, Saleh signed a Gulf initiative after months of stalling, handing over power to Hadi to implement the plan and organise an early election within 90 days.

He remains honorary president until Hadi is elected.