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Yemeni president orders to remove portrait, hand over palace to successor

(Xinhua)

10:51, February 16, 2012

SANAA, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued a directive Wednesday to replace his portraits at government, public buildings, squares and streets with that of his deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the sole candidate for next week's presidential elections, the state-run Saba news agency reported.

Saleh, who is currently in the United States for medical treatment, transferred power to Hadi in November last year in return for immunity from prosecution, under a UN-backed power transfer deal brokered by neighboring oil-rich Gulf countries aimed at ending Yemen's months-long protests.

Saleh will remain as the honorary president until Hadi is officially elected as the president for a two-year interim period.

Two officials at Saleh's office in Sanaa told Xinhua Wednesday on condition of anonymity that "President Saleh also ordered to move his belongings from the Presidential Palace to his private residence in Sanaa, and instructed that the palace should be prepared for Hadi's new residence."

On Monday, Saleh urged the Yemeni people to vote for Hadi in the upcoming presidential election scheduled for Feb. 21.

The polls are expected to take place amid heavy security and to be watched by international observers.

Saleh left Yemen last month after the parliament passed the law to grant his immunity in line with the Gulf Cooperation Council ( GCC) deal. He said he would return home to attend Hadi's inauguration.

Despite the planned political settlement, the single-candidate style of elections sparked daily pro-separatist protests in some southern provinces and by the Shiite rebel group in the northern province of Saada, in which demonstrators showed refusal to the deal and called for boycotting the polls.

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