Yemen sets presidential vote for early 2012
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Yemen will hold presidential elections in February after President Ali Abdullah Saleh (pictured) steps down. Saleh returned to Yemen on Sunday after agreeing earlier this week to leave office following months of unrest.
AFP - President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned to Yemen overnight from Riyadh, where he signed a deal to step down under which a new presidential poll is take place in February, state news agency Saba reported.
Under the accord, the election is to be held on February 21, replacing Saleh who has been in power for more than three decades but faced 10 months of massive anti-regime protests.
Saba did not specify if the president underwent new medical tests in the Saudi capital where he received treatment earlier this year after being wounded in a June bomb attack on the presidential compound in Sanaa.
Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, to whom Saleh handed power under the Gulf-mediated accord, announced the polling date in a decree Saturday, confirming the election would be brought forward from 2013.
US President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser and point-man on Yemen, John Brennan, called Hadi after the announcement.
"The two agreed on the need to quickly implement the terms of the November 23 political settlement so that the legitimate and richly deserved aspirations of the Yemeni people can be realized," the White House said in a statement.
Brennan "stressed that all parties need to refrain from violence and proceed with the transition in a peaceful and orderly manner."
The Riyadh accord makes Saleh, 69, the fourth Arab leader to be ousted from power in the Arab Spring which has swept away the autocratic rulers of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Hadi as the sole candidate in February's poll is to officially take over as consensus president for a two-year interim period, after which parliamentary and presidential elections are to be held.
The early poll follows a 90-day transition period which kicked off with the signing of the power transfer deal in Riyadh.
The accord called for Saleh, in return for immunity from prosecution, to hand all "necessary constitutional powers" to his deputy with immediate effect and to hold office on an honorary basis only for the 90-day period.
A bloody crackdown on the anti-Saleh demonstrations across Yemen since January has left hundreds of people dead.
But demonstrators in Sanaa's Change Square, the focal point of the protests, say they reject the Riyadh deal and want the president to go on trial.
Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Kurbi, meanwhile, has said Saleh could need further medical treatment in the United States.