Yemen: one-candidate elections marred by violence, boycotts

Yemeni electoral officials on Feb. 21 hailed a 60% turnout in single-candidate elections that officially ended President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule, despite boycott calls in the south where violence marred polling. The separatist Southern Movement announced a day of “civil disobedience” to mark the vote. A leader of the movement, Abdulhamid Shokri, said four civilians—including a child—were killed in Aden during street clashes with security forces. Authorities said two soldiers were also killed in the south. Turnout was significantly lower in Aden and the south. There was no polling at all in southern towns controlled by Islamist militants. In the far north, Shi’ite rebels also boycotted the vote. In the US, where Saleh is receiving treatment for wounds sustained in the bombing of his Sanaa compound last June, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the vote was “another important step forward in their [Yemen’s] democratic transition process.” The only person on the ballot was Vice President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, who became acting president in November as the result of a power transfer brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council after months of protests. (Middle East Online, BBC News, CNN, Feb. 22)

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