Yemen's Election: First Step for Reform
On February 21, Yemen held a presidential election that marked the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule. The election, a crucial step in the agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, brought out a high number of Yemenis eager to cast their ballot to confirm Vice President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi as president. Grant Kippen, IFES chief of party in Yemen, answers some questions about the poll.
What is the significance of this election?
While there is only one candidate in the race, Vice President Hadi, the election serves as a critical step in the transition as citizens are voting to support the transfer of power according to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal bringing an end to more than three decades of rule by President Saleh.
How was the voter turnout?
Yemenis queued up early Tuesday morning as polls opened for the presidential election. While official turnout figures have not yet been released, some electoral officials were quoted in the media on Wednesday stating that voter turnout had reached 60 percent, despite threats of violence and calls for boycott. Turnout was lower in the south where several instances of violence took place, especially in the southern port city of Aden. The southern movement had called for a boycott of the election and a day of "civil disobedience."
When will voting results be released?
Votes are being counted manually at the polling station level. Results will then being transmitted to the main committees within each electoral district for validation. Under the election law, the SCER has 10 days in which to announce the official results. However, given the unique nature of the February 21 election, where there was only one candidate, results are expected to be announced within the next several days.
What was the security situation like?
Despite extensive security measures, there were several instances of violence concentrated mostly in the southern port city of Aden. Reports have stated that protests and riots have prevented some people from voting. It has also been reported that several people have been killed nationwide.