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Middle East

Yemen's ex-leader makes apology

Outgoing president Ali Abdullah Saleh apologised for "any shortcoming" in his 33-year rule before leaving Yemen for the United States yesterday.

Mr Saleh, who has won immunity from prosecution in return for transferring power, said he would return to the country after medical treatment as head of the General People's Congress party. He asked Yemenis to forgive him for past mistakes.

"I ask for pardon from all Yemeni men and women for any shortcoming that occurred during my 33-year rule," he said in a televised speech.

An aide to Mr Saleh said he would spend two or three days in neighbouring Oman, but an Omani official said that the veteran ruler would be in transit for only a few hours.

Thousands of Yemenis protested yesterday against Mr Saleh's immunity and demanded he be put on trial for the killing of hundreds of demonstrators during a year of unrest.