Jan 23 - Outgoing president Ali Abdullah Saleh left Yemen to seek medical treatment in the U.S., while protesters call for justice against him despite immunity. Michaela Cabrera reports
Yemen's outgoing president Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would be seeking medical treatment in the U.S. He has handed over power to his vice president, but would return still as head of the ruling party. Saleh, who ruled Yemen for three decades, offered an apology to his countrymen. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) OUTGOING YEMENI PRESIDENT ALI ABDULLAH SALEH, SAYING: "I demand a pardon from all the sons of the nation, men and women. If shortcomings occurred during my 33 year term, then I ask for forgiveness and I apologise to all the citizens of Yemen." But despite his planned departure, thousands went back to the streets to protest. Saleh has been granted immunity, as part of measures to negotiate his resignation. But the protesters are demanding that he be put on trial for offences that were committed during his rule. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PROTESTER MOHAMMED AL-SAIDI, SAYING: "These young people in the public squares are celebrating his departure, but they made a vow to the blood of the martyrs that they will pursue him, even if he dived into the sea, or ascended into the sky, or went to the edge of the world." The protesters also demanded that other officials from Saleh's regime also leave the country. SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PROTESTER FATIMA AL-AGHBARI, SAYING: "The departure of Ali Abdullah Saleh from Yemen has left us very happy because we'll have got ourselves rid of the head of corruption, and we hope that his associates follow him because they wreaked havoc in our land." They accuse security forces controlled by Saleh and his aides of killing hundreds of people. Many fear that his followers will cling to power even when he is gone. Michaela Cabrera, Reuters.