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Yemen: Hadi President After 33 Years of Saleh

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

After 33 long years of Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule, Yemen finally inaugurated today a new President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, for the transitional phase, following a whole year of protests. Hadi had assumed his position as president according to a GCC-brokered power deal which made him the sole consensus presidential candidate in the one man election, in which he won 99.8 per cent of the votes.

The inauguration ceremony was held today Monday (Feb 27th), in the Presidential Palace in Sanaa, and was attended by the Arab League head Nabil ElAraby, UN special envoy to Yemen Jamal Ben Omar, foreign diplomats, ministers, MPs and journalists. It was also televised live.

Journalist @ionacraig tweeted:

Off to the palace today to see Saleh hand over at Hadi's inauguration. What a difference a yr makes. Last there Feb. 2011 for a Saleh speech

Journalist @adammbaron tweeted the links to the two speeches delivered by Saleh and Hadi:

outgoing prez saleh's speech from today: youtube.com/watch?v=ytYf_G… incoming prez hadi's speech from today: youtube.com/watch?v=SLb7Z3… #yemen

Saleh's delivered his speech in a husky voice, understandably after 33 years of rule, he never expected this moment to come. He described the past year in Yemen as a destructive crisis and pledged his support for the new leadership, stating that Yemen's security was part and parcel of the security of the region and hence called on neighboring countries and friends to stand by it and continue the projects that were frozen in Yemen due to the revolution. He also greeted the steadfast Yemeni people and the army for standing together as one, and especially thanked the army, describing them as the safety valve of the revolution, the republic, the unity and freedom, as seen and heard in this video posted by motamarnet.

UN correspondent Casey L Coombs noticed and tweeted:

‏@Macoombs: Saleh appears & sounds frail at podium speech inaugurating new Prez Hadi #Yemen

He adds:

‏@Macoombs: Evident from rewatching #Saleh's speech at #Hadi inaug that one thing 34 years of dictatorship did not prepare him for was this moment.

Hadi delivered a shorter speech, with a hesitant pause before addressing Saleh as Brigadier without the usual 33 year title of president. He stated that today established a new basis for a peaceful transfer of power and that the people were the source of power according to the constitution. Yemen, he said, was facing a difficult and complicated crisis, and Yemenis voting in millions reflected the desire for security and stability and change for the better. He also described the past year as a crisis, and called everyone to collaborate with the new leadership to pass the transitional phase, and finally he hoped that in two years there will be a similar handover of power.

The video of his speech can be watched here.

As @abubakrabdullah pointed in his tweet:

Calling the revolution a ‘crisis’ is not a good start President Hadi #Yemen

The ceremony ended with a symbolic handing of the Yemeni flag from Saleh to Hadi as tweeted by Fazli Corman, Turkey's new Ambassador to Yemen, who has also recently joined Twitter:

@FazliCorman: Former President Saleh hands over “revolutionary flag of Yemen” to the new President Hadi in Sanaa today. pic.twitter.com/I84NVMUU

Saleh hands over the flag to Hadi at the ceremony. Photograph by Turkish Ambassador to Yemen Fazli Corman, shared on Twitter

Saleh hands over the flag to Hadi at the ceremony. Photograph by Turkish Ambassador to Yemen Fazli Corman, shared on Twitter

Iona Craig tweeted her summary of the inauguration scene:

‏@ionacraig: Bizarre and chaotic ceremony this morning at the palace. Noted Saleh now wearing a hearing aid.

and got the following response:

@olireports: @ionacraig Maybe that was the problem all along. A hearing aid… Couldn't hear his people.

The success of Yemen's revolution and Yemen's challenging future are certainly as uncertain as Saleh's plans. There are speculations as usual regarding his next move. Whether he plans to stay in Yemen and head the GPC ruling party as he has stated several times before, or unlikely, go into exile in Ethiopia is not confirmed yet.

While @alguneid tweeted:

Aides: #Yemen's Saleh to seek exile in Ethiopia – صالح، سيعيش في أثيويا USATODAY.com usat.ly/zg6yOp#.T0tt-O… via @USATODAY

@tomfinn2 tweeted:

Reliable gov. source says ain't true. RT @abuaardvark: Confirmed? RT @SultanAlQassemi: Yemen's Saleh will go into self exile in Ethiopia.

The military reform and the role Saleh's family will play in Yemen's politics is also another big question mark, especially after the recent interview that journalist Tom Finn had with US ambassador in Yemen, Gerelad M. Fereistein, which he tweeted last week.

@tomfinn2:
Transcript of my interview last week with Gerald M. Feierstein, US Ambassador to #Yemen. bit.ly/A8erQL

And this photo which Yemeni Facebook pages and tweeps have been circulating as tweeted by @samwaddah shows who Yemenis believe is really ruling the country.

@SamWaddah: US Ambassador in #Yemen is a real multi-tasker! Reality in Yemen! twitpic.com/8orn89

The photograph, posted below, shows the US Ambassador casting a ballot, dressed as a tribal leader and also as the commander of the armed forces.

Who really rules Yemen?

Who really rules Yemen? Sam Waddah shares this image showing the US Ambassador to Yemen in a different light

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

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