Yemen’s embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh left a Saudi hospital over two months after he was wounded in a bombing at his Sanaa residence, but he will remain in Riyadh, a Saudi official told AFP.
‘The Yemeni president left the military hospital this (Saturday) evening at 9:00 pm (1800 GMT) after receiving the necessary treatment and was taken to a temporary residence for a recovery period,’ he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official did not say how long Saleh would stay, as an uprising continues in Yemen against his government.
Yemen’s junior information minister Abdo Al Janadi refused to confirm Saleh’s release from hospital, merely telling AFP that ‘the president is following his treatment’ in Riyadh.
He added: ‘When his doctors allow him to return, he will return.’
Saleh was admitted to the Saudi military hospital the day after the June 3 attack on his official residence. Eleven people were killed and 124 others were wounded, among them senior officials.
He appeared on television on July 7 for the first time since the bombing, covered in bandages.
Saleh accused ‘elements of terrorism’ and elements ‘linked to the terrorists’ of having targeted him in the attack, without saying who he was referring to.
Three days later, he was shown on television receiving John Brennan, US President Barack Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser. Saleh was in better shape than in his earlier appearance, although burns on his face were still visible.
The White House said Brennan had called on Saleh during the meeting to sign a transition plan sponsored by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that would see him cede power within 30 days in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Since Saleh’s departure to Saudi Arabia, Yemeni Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has assumed power but has not been designated the de facto head of state.
The opposition, meanwhile, has called for the creation of an interim council, to prevent Saleh’s return.
Saleh has ruled Yemen since 1978 and has worked closely with the United States on fighting Al Qaeda, but cooperation has been sharply curtailed this year due to the turmoil in his country.
Since January, protesters have been calling for Saleh to step down.
Yemeni security forces and government supporters have carried out bloody attacks on protesters, while opposition tribesmen have battled government forces in the capital Sanaa and elsewhere, and some military units have defected to the opposition.
Influential tribal leaders formed a coalition last month headed by tribal chief Shaikh Sadiq Al Ahmar to bolster the uprising against Saleh, in which fierce clashes have hit parts of the country.
Saleh, 69, joined the army at an early age and took part in the 1962 coup that replaced the Zaidi imamate with an Arab nationalist republic.
His career has been remarkably long — of his four predecessors, two were assassinated and two went into exile after coups.
Saleh first took power at the height of the Cold War as leader of North Yemen in 1978, and in 1990 he successfully steered the country to reunification with the communist South.
He has since survived a succession of crises, including Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 after which Saudi Arabia punished its southern neighbour for siding with Iraq.