Last Updated: Fri Feb 24, 2012 00:14 am (KSA) 21:14 pm (GMT)

Yemen’s Saleh departs U.S. after medical visit

Yemen’s outgoing president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had medical treatment in the United States, left the country on Thursday after an uncontested election transferred power to his deputy under a deal that ended months of protests against Saleh’s rule.

A Yemeni official confirmed Saleh had left the United States, but gave no information about his destination.

Saleh arrived in the United States in January to receive treatment for wounds inflicted during an assassination attempt last year.

He has repeatedly voiced plans to return to Yemen, where his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, is taking over as president following an election on Tuesday that formally ended Saleh’s 33-year rule.

Saleh, 69, had been a longtime U.S. ally, but Washington eventually backed a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council to speed his exit, making him the fourth veteran Arab leader unseated by “Arab Spring” uprisings.

The United States and oil giant Saudi Arabia fear unrest in the impoverished country, which faces a range of security challenges and is the operational base for the regional wing of al-Qaeda.

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