Yemeni president departs for Oman

SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- A spokesman for Yemen's embattled president says Ali Abdullah Saleh has left the country for the Persian Gulf country of Oman.

Ahmed al-Soufi said Saleh flew out of Yemen's capital Sanaa late Sunday.

Saleh's departure follows a farewell speech in which he passed power to his deputy, slated to be rubber-stamped as the country's new leader on Feb. 21.

The move could help push forward a U.S.-backed deal brokered by Yemen's neighbors that seeks to end the country's political crisis.

For nearly a year, Yemeni protesters have called for the end of Saleh's 33-year rule. Protesters and human rights groups have criticized the power transfer deal for granting Saleh immunity from prosecution. They want to see him tried for his alleged role in protester deaths

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