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Yemen's Saleh Finally Hands Over Power After 33 Years

Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi was officially inaugurated Yemen's new President on Monday, as his predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for 33 years, formally handed over power at a ceremony held in the presidential complex in capital Sanaa.

"I now hand over the flag of the revolution, the republic, freedom, security ... to safe hands," Saleh said as he handed the Yemeni flag to Hadi who took his oath of office in Parliament on Saturday.

Warring factions in Yemen signed an agreement in November on a transitional settlement under which Saleh agreed to hand over power to Hadi, who served as Saleh's deputy for some 17 years. He was the consensus candidate in Tuesday's presidential election.

Hadi, who swept the polls winning 99.8 per cent of the votes, said "we are laying a new base for peaceful transfer of power in Yemen."

He called on all people to cooperate with the new leadership and the two-year interim national unity government, half of which is consisted of Ministers from the Opposition coalition.

Saleh, who retains his post as the head of the former ruling General People's Congress party, pledged his support to the new government.

Under a GCC-mediated transition deal, the new national unity government gave equal weight to Saleh's party and the Opposition. However, the latter boycotted the ceremony because of Saleh's presence.

Saleh had agreed to relinquish power in exchange for immunity from prosecution. He returned from the United States on Friday after weeks of medical treatment to attend the inaugural ceremony.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said he was aware that Yemen was facing many difficult challenges, but he was confident the country could move forward.

U.S. President Barack Obama said his country would be "a steadfast partner to Yemen" in its transition to democracy.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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