Yemeni Vice President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi assumed the presidency of Yemen following President Ali Abdullah Saleh's departure to Saudi Arabia on Sunday (June 5th) to receive treatment. The president suffered injuries during a missile strike on a mosque inside the presidential compound Friday.
Saleh was seen walking off the Saudi aircraft that carried him to Riyadh but had visible injuries on his neck, head and face, according to wire reports.
Hadi was born in Thkin in Abyan province in 1945. He rose through the military ranks serving as an officer in the Federation of South Arabia Army in 1966 before becoming a lieutenant general in 1997.
According to the ruling Congress Party, Hadi will serve as president on an interim basis until Saleh returns. The opposition contends that Saleh's departure entitles the vice president to take over the presidency for 60 days, whereupon elections are to be held. Saleh could then return as a citizen but not as president. The same terms were outlined in an agreement brokered by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) that was not signed by Saleh.
Tareq al-Shami, spokesman for the ruling Congress Party, told Al-Shorfa, "The president will return after a few days and will resume his duties as president. This is not the first nor will it be the last instance where the vice president is assigned the functions of the presidency when he [the president] travels abroad. This is a constitutional measure to safeguard the country."
Regarding the transfer of authority and the possibility of implementing the GCC initiative, al-Shami said, "Hadi is the secretary-general of the ruling party and has led the political dialogue with the opposition, but he has ruled out conducting the dialogue or implementing an initiative that excludes the president."
Hadi began to exercise the functions of the presidency by convening a meeting of military commanders close to Saleh and family members before the president left for treatment. Saleh's son Ahmad, the commander of the Republican Guard and Special Forces that are loyal to the president, attended the meeting.
Mohammed Qahtan, spokesman for the Joint Meeting Parties, which comprises the main opposition parties, said during a Sunday press conference, "The Yemeni people will do everything in their power to prevent Saleh from re-entering Yemen."
He said it is unlikely Saleh would return, at least in the short term, based on news of the re-location of members of the president's family, a story which was denied by the official Saba news agency.
Mohammed al-Mutawakil, a member of the Joint Meeting Parties' Supreme Council, said that Yemenis should think about the country's future and not look back. He said the interim presidency and the scope of its role should be discussed with the ruling party and GCC mediators.
Mutawakil highlighted the importance of bringing the media and the security situation under control in the near future to ensure a successful transition and build a civil state. He emphasised the importance of the Congress Party's participation in the coming phase.
The Organising Committee of the Peaceful Youth Revolution said their non-violent struggle would continue through sit-ins until all objectives of the revolution are achieved and its demands are met.
Celebrations erupted in the country's Change and Freedom Squares when citizens heard about Saleh's departure.
Wasim al-Qurashi, a member of the Youth Revolution Committee, told Al-Shorfa, "Today is a holiday and an achievement worth celebrating, as it marks the completion of the first phase of the revolution, and we assert that we shall persist with and escalate our activities until we achieve all its aims."
Fahd Al-Munifi, a member of Youth Revolution's media committee, said they agreed to the vice-president leading during the transition, "on condition it is not circumvented and a coup is not staged against it. Hadi is an agreeable choice".
Opposition forces loyal to Hashed tribal leader Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar announced Sunday they would abide by a truce agreement. Hadi agreed to withdraw government troops from the Sanaa neighbourhood where clashes had occurred and to lift roadblocks that were set up in some areas of the capital, according to wire reports.
"The truce has been applied. Seventy-five percent of it is applied. We are hopeful about implementing a complete truce if Saleh's forces adhere to it," Abdul Qawi al-Qaisi, the head of al-Ahmar's office told Al-Shorfa.
Al-Qaisi added, "Saleh's snipers killed four of Sheikh Sadiq's supporters, two of them yesterday and two others today, Monday morning."
He added that the government is supposed to withdraw its military presence according to the agreement in return for al-Ahmar's supporters vacating government buildings.