News24

Yemen's leader cleared to go to US

2012-01-22 22:36

Washington - Yemen's outgoing president has been cleared to go to the US temporarily for medical treatment, a senior Obama administration official said on Sunday.

Ali Abdullah Saleh is expected to stay in the US for a limited amount of time that corresponds to the duration of his treatment, the official said.

Earlier on Sunday, a presidential spokesperson in Yemen said Saleh had left the capital on a jet headed for the Persian Gulf sultanate of Oman and would be making another stop before going to the US.

The US official did not say when Saleh would arrive in the US or where he would be receiving treatment. The official was not authorised to discuss details about Saleh and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Demonstrators in Yemen began protesting against Saleh and calling for his ousting nearly one year ago. The Yemeni government responded with a bloody crackdown, leaving hundreds of protesters dead and sparking wider violence in the capital with rival militias.

Saleh agreed last year to transfer power to his vice president ahead of presidential elections planned for February. But Saleh has continued to wield power behind the scenes, and US officials believed getting him out of Yemen was necessary in order to ensure the elections took place.

Saleh, who has ruled for more than 33 years, left Yemen earlier in the uprising for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. His palace mosque was bombed and he suffered severe burns.