On Wednesday 23rd of November 2011, Yemen cautiously welcomed the apparent end of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s presidency, a period which lasted for 33 years and formed one of the most difficult times in the modern history of Yemen.
Saleh has signed to step down and transfer power to his vice under an agreement established by the GCC countries in Riyadh, in the presence of the Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and the opposition parties.
Saleh delivered a speech after signing the initiative full of sourness and complaints, referring to the assassination attempt last June in an attack on a mosque in the Presidential Palace.
The agreement is a political formula that has been subjected to many amendments, and comes after the outbreak of a popular revolution against the Saleh regime, with millions of Yemenis coming out onto the streets, influenced by the events of the ‘Arab spring’.
According to the agreement, a transitional period starts immediately after signing it, in which Saleh’s constitutional power moves to his vice, Abdo Rabbo Mansoor Hadi, with Saleh retaining the title of President devoid of any authorities until a presidential elections within 90 days.
The GPC and the opposition parties will deliver their names to form a government of national unity within two weeks, whilst Hadi calls for early presidential elections and forms a military commission to restructure the army and the security forces and remove all armed groups.
The second phase of the transitional period starts after the presidential elections and lasts for two years; a full national dialogue takes place to solve all the Yemeni problems, especially the Southern issue.
Saleh seized power in the former North Yemen in 1978, unifying North and South Yemen in 1990, and then continuing as President of the Republic of Yemen. He won dubious polls in 1999 and 2006.
Saleh is a military man, who came from a simple family from the village of Sanhan, south of the capital city, Sana’a. He received basic education before joining the army and climbed the military ranks until he reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and seized power with this rank, and then he kept granting himself more ranks until he reached the rank of Marshal.
Saleh ruled the country with multiple tools: a combination of repression, corruption and buying loyalties. He vanquished his political opponents by launching harsh repression campaigns that targeted Yemeni activists in the period before announcing the unification of the country.
The era of Saleh is synonymous with deficiencies in law and order, financial corruption and a series of bloody civil wars that he fought to crush his opponents in the central and southern regions and the city of Sa’ada, which led the country to a sharp social and political division.
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East