23 Jan 2012

Unwanted president leaving Yemen

12:48 pm on 23 January 2012

President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen has given what appears to be a farewell speech, asking forgiveness for any mistakes during his 33 years in power.

Mr Saleh left for Oman on Sunday, saying he was planning to travel to the United States for further medical treatment, but would later return to Yemen.

Parliament on Saturday approved a bill granting him full immunity.

"God willing, I will leave for treatment in the United States and I will return to Sanaa as head of the General People's Congress party," Mr Saleh told party officials.

State news agency Saba reports he also asked Yemenis to forgive him for mistakes made during his rule.

"I ask for pardon from all Yemeni men and women for any shortcoming that occurred during my 33-year rule and I ask forgiveness and offer my apologies to all Yemeni men and women," he said.

"Now we must concentrate on our martyrs and injured."

Thousands of people protested on Sunday against the immunity law and demanded he be put on trial.

The United States says it has approved a visa for Mr Saleh to enter the country for medical treatment.