Obama: 'new beginning' for Yemen

US President Barack Obama says the swearing in of a new president in Yemen marks "a new beginning" for the nation but says there's much work to do, including holding new elections by 2014.

"Under President (Abdrabuh Mansur) Hadi's leadership, Yemen has the potential to serve as a model for how peaceful transitions can occur when people resist violence and unite under a common cause," Obama said, pledging the United States would "remain a steadfast partner to Yemen" in its transition to democracy.

"This week, millions of Yemenis voted for a new president and the beginning of a promising new chapter in Yemen's history," Obama said.

"The Yemeni people have achieved a new beginning for their country, but much work lies ahead."

The White House said Obama told Hadi that the United States "will stand with the people of Yemen as they continue their efforts to forge a brighter future for their country".

A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle outside a presidential palace in southeastern Yemen on Saturday, killing 26 elite troops and overshadowing the swearing in of the first new president in Sanaa since 1978.

A military official said the bombing in the Hadramawt provincial capital Mukalla bore the hallmark of al-Qaeda, as Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi took the oath to succeed strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh and pledged to press the battle against the jihadists.

"Going forward, as part of their political agreement, Yemenis must convene an inclusive National Dialogue, reform their constitution, reorganise the military and security services, and hold presidential and parliamentary elections by 2014," Obama said.

"This is an ambitious agenda, but with the determination they have shown over the past year, Yemenis have proven they are up to the task."

In an address to the nation after being sworn in to succeed Saleh, Hadi vowed to fight against al-Qaeda and restore security across his impoverished nation, ancestral homeland of slain jihadist leader Osama bin Laden.

- AFP

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