President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen has departed the country he has ruled for 33 years, the New York Times reports, and is making his way to the U.S. for treatment of injuries sustained during a bomb attack on his palace in June. He'll make a pitstop in Oman and land on our soil by Wednesday, according to an anonymous government source.
Protests raged throughout much of 2011 demanding that Saleh step down. Thus began a political shell game that saw Saleh seemingly bend far more readily than other Middle East leaders, while never quite relinquishing office: The president signed a deal in November that pledged he resign in exchange for immunity from prosecution over the hundreds who were killed in anti-government protests. He was granted that immunity by Yemen's parliament when the deal was voted in on Saturday; it further absolved all of his subordinates from "politically motivated crimes." Parliament also approved Vice President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi as the consensus candidate for the upcoming elections slated for Feb. 21, a date which also marks the official end of Saleh's rule.
Saleh bid adieu to his people in a speech given on Sunday, in which he told protesters, “Go back to your homes, go back to your families...I feel sorry for you and invite you to return to your house and start with a new page with the new leadership." He added that he sought their "pardon for any failure that occurred during my tenure,” and pledged to return to Yemen following his treatment. Don't count it.
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