Celebrations around Yemen after Saleh's departure
Thousands of Yemenis in several cities took to the streets in celebration on Sunday, after President Ali Abdullah Saleh was announced to be in Saudi Arabia, DPA reported.
Reports said Saleh arrived in the neighbouring Kingdom late Saturday for medical treatment of wounds suffered in an attack on his presidential palace. A piece of shrapnel was lodged near Saleh's heart.
"People saw this move as a victory. Protesters are singing and celebrating," Sana'a-based activist Shatha al-Harazi told the German Press Agency dpa. "For us 'departure' is the most powerful word."
"The fact that Saleh left the country at this critical time is great victory. However, people are still worried," she added.
Saleh, a close US ally in the war on terror who has been in power for 32 years, was facing calls to step down. More than 350 people have been killed in anti-government protests since January.
Saleh's deputy, Abed Rabbo Mansur, had taken on executive duties in the president's absence. Al Arabiya broadcaster reported that Mansur met with Saleh's son the night before.
Activists are also worried that Mansur would not have broad powers to exercise and were concerned about the fact that members of Saleh's family hold senior security and government positions.
Saleh blamed members of his own Hashid tribe, led by the influential Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, for Friday's attack on his palace. He vowed that security forces would restore calm and go after the perpetrators.
Violence between Saleh's security and rebel tribesmen escalated last month after Saleh refused to sign a Gulf-brokered power transfer deal.