Is Saleh running Yemen from US exile?

Some 20 gathered to protest Feb. 2 outside the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Manhattan’s Central Park South, where the Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is said to be staying. Protesters decried Saleh’s his trip to New York City for medical treatment, and a deal he received that granted him immunity from prosecution for repression during the uprising last year. The rally was organized by a group calling itself the Yemeni American Coalition for Change. “We are greatly dissatisfied that the US chose to side with a dictator,” said Summer Nasser, a member of the coalition. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman spoke to the group from Yemen via cellphone and an interpreter. She accused Saleh of orchestrating violence in Yemen while in New York, and concluded: “We call on the US to hold Saleh accountable and not to allow him to rule Yemen from the US.” (NYT City Room blog, Feb. 2)

Meanwhile in Yemen, independent journalists lost a struggle as armed regime loyalists helped invade the nation’s flagship newspaper, al-Thawra, and forcibly reinstated the ousted Saleh’s image at the top of the Feb. 3 edition. Late the previous night, about 40 pro-regime journalists from al-Thawra and other government newspapers, supported by a group of armed men, entered the newsroom and took over the publication, according to three senior journalists at the paper. They retrieved the old masthead from the computer files and hastily wrote multiple stories in favor of President Saleh, which appeared in Friday’s edition.

Since his departure for the US on Jan. 22, President Saleh has left day-to-day running of the government in the hands of his vice president, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. However, he won’t officially be stripped of his title as head of state until Feb. 21, when a referendum is scheduled to approve Hadi as the new leader—the only name on the ballot. The political limbo has left the bureaucracy wondering who is in charge, especially as the vice president has stayed behind closed doors, making no public statement since Saleh’s departure. (WSJ, Feb. 3)

See our last posts on Yemen and the Arab revolutions.

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