A girl carries a portrait of outgoing Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa on December 30, 2011
A girl carries a portrait of outgoing Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa on December 30, 2011. Saleh has cancelled a trip to the United States, a senior official said on Wednesday, after requests from his ruling party that he remain in Yemen until after presidential elections. © Mohammed Huwais - AFP/File
A girl carries a portrait of outgoing Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa on December 30, 2011
AFP
Last updated: January 4, 2012

Yemen president cancels US trip

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has cancelled a trip to the United States, a senior official said on Wednesday, after requests from his ruling party that he remain in Yemen until after presidential elections.

Saleh, who is set to resign formally after the February polls in accordance with a Gulf-sponsored power transition plan, announced in late December his intentions to travel to the US "in order to create favourable conditions ... for the presidential election."

Deputy Information Minister Abdo al-Janadi told reporters on Wednesday that Saleh decided to cancel his trip after leading members of his General People's Congress party "pressured him not to travel ... because the elections could not take place without him."

A statement from Yemen's official news agency said Saleh made the announcement in a meeting Wednesday with top party officials to ensure "the success of the (Gulf) initiative ... and its implementation on the ground."

"This is what made the president decide not to leave," said Janadi, adding that there was "no truth to the news that there is a dispute between Washington and Sanaa over the president's trip."

A senior US official said last week that Saleh's office had informed the US embassy in Sanaa that the president wanted to go to the United States to seek "specialised medical treatment."

White House deputy spokesman Josh Earnest said US officials were still considering Saleh's request and no decision had been made, despite news reports to the contrary.

The veteran leader suffered severe burns in a June 4 bomb attack as he prayed at a mosque in his palace compound in Sanaa, and was admitted to a Saudi hospital for treatment.

Janadi said on Wednesday that Saleh "was in good health."

The Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, signed by Saleh in November after more than 10 months of mass anti-government protests, forced Saleh to hand power to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.

The plan also gave Saleh and his closest aides and relatives immunity from prosecution for alleged crimes committed against Yemenis in the months of unrest that left hundreds of people dead and thousands more wounded.

It also allowed Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for more than 33 years, to retain the title of honorary president until he formally resigns after the elections.

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