Ali Abdullah Saleh formally stepped down after 33 years in power before a crowd of parliamentarians, tribal leaders and foreign dignitaries at the presidential palace in Sanaa on Monday (February 27th).
"I hand over the banner of the revolution, of the republic, of freedom, of security and of stability [...] to safe hands," said Saleh while standing next to Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was sworn in as Yemen's new president for a transitional period of two years on Saturday (February 25th).
Saleh said that he would "stand [...] by my brother, the president of the republic," and urged Yemenis to rally behind Hadi in his fight against "terrorism, first and foremost, al-Qaeda".
Hadi won a consensus candidacy vote based on the Gulf Co-operation Council's initiative that was supported by UN Security Council resolution 2014. The initiative was signed in Riyadh last November by all Yemeni political factions.
The new Yemeni president, a southern Yemeni military man, is the second president of the unified Yemen. According to the Yemeni constitution, Hadi begins his duties as president immediately after taking the constitutional oath.
"The elections represented the bridge that took people from despair to hope," Hadi said during the swearing-in ceremony. "This gives the political parties, which are represented in the government, and anyone who has a voice to be heard in this country, the responsibility to safely guide the people towards the future with open, forgiving hearts and a rhetoric that is filled with hope as well as a clear and promising future."
Hadi pledged in front of parliament to continue fighting al-Qaeda, calling it a "religious and national duty" while cautioning that in the absence of security "the only outcome facing the country is chaos".
The new president said he was committed to returning stability to the entire country, using Yemen's resources and capabilities, solving problems that stand in the face of the country's development, and expanding the middle-class.
The president of the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum, Judge Mohammed al-Hakimi, announced in a press conference on Friday that al-Hadi had won the early presidential elections with more than 6 million votes, roughly 65% of the 10 million registered voters.
Judge Saba al-Hajji, member of the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum, told Al-Shorfa that the elections "ran very smoothly" and there was a high turnout from voters, especially those that reached the legal age for voting since the last election and were not registered in the election lists. He also said "preliminary estimates indicate wide female participation as female votes reached two million".
"The Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum has completed its role and the ball is now in the court of the new president, the national unity government and all the parties and organisations in order to take the country to the safe side by organising a national dialogue conference," he said.
Abdo al-Janadi, spokesman for the General People's Congress (GPC), told al-Shorfa, "Yemen has entered a new stage under the leadership of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and it is now incumbent upon the new president and the national unity government to eliminate security problems so that army units can go back to their barracks and fighters go back to their regions."
Al-Janadi said that fighting terrorist organisations, especially al-Qaeda, should be high on the president's agenda. Al-Janadi also condemned the terrorist operation on Saturday that targeted the presidential palace in Mukalla, which resulted in 30 deaths and eight injuries.
Abdo al-Odeini, official spokesman for the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), called for implementing the second stage of the GCC initiative, which includes in its terms a restructuring of the army based on professional and national principles.
He also called for adopting the National Reconciliation Act and to hold a national dialogue conference, which "constitutes the basis for resolving the problems facing Yemen and its future".