Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
RIYADH- Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia on Saturday for treatment for wounds he suffered a day earlier in an attack on the presidential palace, a Saudi government source said. After his exit, it was announced that Yemeni Vice President Abid Rabou Mansour Hadi is now acting president.
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"Saleh is expected to come to Saudi Arabia tonight for treatment for neck and chest wounds," the source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
Global powers have been pressing Saleh to sign a Gulf-brokered deal to end his nearly 33-year rule over one of the Arab world's poorest states.
Seven other people were killed in the attack that wounded Saleh, who is facing mounting pressure to step down.
Leaving Yemen at a time of such instability, even for medical care,
could make it hard for Saleh to retain power and be seen as the first
step in a transfer of leadership.
Also on Saturday, a Saudi source told Reuters Saudi Arabia has
brokered a fresh truce between a powerful Yemini tribal federation and
forces loyal to Saleh.
The two sides agreed to a truce a week ago
brokered by the Saudis but it only held for about a day as they began
fresh street battles in Sanaa that killed scores this week.
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Gulf and global powers, including Saudi Arabia, have been pushing Saleh
to sign a deal to step down. Leaving the country, even for medical
treatment, could be seen as the first step in a transfer of leadership.
There are growing worries that Yemen, already on the brink of financial
ruin and home at al-Qaida militants, would become a failed state that
poses a threat to the world's largest oil exporting region and to global
Residents in Sanaa faced new fears after fighting between a powerful
tribal federation and Saleh's forces spread to new parts of the divided
city on Friday, prompting a fresh exodus of war-weary civilians.
"Saleh is still in Sanaa," a Yemeni official told Reuters.
"He had suffered minor wounds to his head and I believe his face."
Nearly 200 people have been killed in the past two weeks in urban
battles with machine guns, mortars and rocket propelled grenades that
caused Sanaa's airport to briefly ground flights twice and shuttered
Intermittent blasts and sporadic fire fights punctuated the predawn
hours in Sanaa. Roads were clogged when the sun rose by civilians
fleeing violence that has engulfed more of the city.
"Bullets are everywhere, explosions terrified us. There's no chance to stay anymore," said Sanaa resident Ali Ahmed.
Spain said it is evacuating its citizens and diplomats in Yemen and
Germany ordered the temporary closure of its embassy, adding to the
number of countries shutting the doors on their diplomatic missions in
Sanaa due to the fighting.
On Friday, several Yemeni officials were injured and seven killed when
shells hit a mosque in the presidential palace, state media said.
Saleh's forces retaliated by shelling the homes of the leaders of a the
Hashed tribal federation fighting an urban battle to oust Saleh.
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