The Role of Elections in a Post-Conflict Yemen

Publication Date: 
20 Apr 2016

Publication Type:

More than one year after the start of the conflict in Yemen, fighting continues between pro-government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi militias allied with armed forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has worked with all parties to the conflict to broker peace talks, however all efforts to negotiate an end to the political and security crisis have so far been unsuccessful. Recently, there have been signs of a possible de-escalation, fueling hope for an end to the conflict and the start of a post-conflict transition.

Although there is a great deal of uncertainty about the transition process that Yemen will undergo following an end to the current hostilities, elections will almost certainly be a major component of any negotiated political settlement. The electoral process will have significant political and security implications for a post-conflict transitional process, and will be a core concern for both Yemeni and international stakeholders.

This comprehensive technical assessment of electoral process options, and the associated pros, cons, and ramifications of each, is intended to inform discussions among and between local and international stakeholders. It is important that all stakeholders understand election-related challenges so they are prepared to participate meaningfully in transition-related discussions and decisions. The paper establishes a framework for conducting electoral processes during the transition, the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders, and indicative timelines for each event. This includes the processes for drafting and approving a new constitution, developing strategies for reaching a political agreement on a new electoral timeline for a referendum, parliamentary, and other elections as required by the new constitution. The political, operational, and administrative challenges associated with each event are identified and recommendations to mitigate challenges are proposed. Regardless of the outcomes of any negotiated settlement, the successful conduct of inclusive, transparent, and credible elections will be critical to ensure the success of the political transition.