Successor to Saleh sworn in
Mansur Hadi vowed to press the fight against al-Qaeda in Yemen as he took the oath yesterday as the first new president in Sanaa since 1978 after a year of turmoil and bloodshed.
The event was overshadowed by a suicide blast as a bomber blew up a vehicle outside a presidential palace in southeastern Yemen yesterday, killing 26 elite troops.
A military official said the bombing in the Hadramawt provincial capital Mukalla bore the hallmark of al-Qaeda.
Veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, who arrived back from medical treatment in the United States in the early hours, is to formally hand over the reins of power in a ceremony at the presidential palace on Monday.
The handover will put the seal on a hard-won November transfer of power deal, under which Saleh agreed to step down in return for a controversial promise of immunity from prosecution over the deaths of hundreds of people during 10 months of protests against his rule.
The uprising split the security forces, left the two largest cities Sanaa and Taez divided into rival zones of control and sparked a loss of central government control that al-Qaeda loyalists exploited to seize large swathes of the south and east.
Deafening applause filled the parliament chamber as Hadi rose for the ceremony which was broadcast live by state television.
In an address to the nation straight afterwards, the new president said he had the political legitimacy to meet the challenges after winning overwhelming endorsement in a Tuesday election in which his name was the only one on the ballot paper.
He vowed to "turn a new page in the building of a new Yemen which unites all its citizens."
Hadi promised to restore security across his impoverished nation "without which no economic development would be possible." He vowed to continue the fight against al-Qaeda as a patriotic duty.
Official results released late Friday gave Hadi 99.8 percent of valid votes cast in the election in which turnout reached 60 percent nationwide.
Saleh urged Yemenis to give their support to his successor. But he refused to accept the justice of the uprising against his rule, insisting that there had been "conspiracy from abroad" and that Yemenis had "foiled this conspiracy".
Under the UN-backed Gulf-brokered transfer of power deal, Hadi is to serve as president for an interim period of two years, after which there will be a contested presidential election along with parliamentary polls.