Ali Abdullah Saleh was quoted by the official Saba news agency as saying: "My future tasks include the huge development file... and that of the energy production required to meet growing needs, including producing electricity through nuclear energy."

 

Speaking last month during the standoff between Iran and Western nations over Tehran's nuclear programme, Salah had defended "the right of Arab countries to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes".

 

Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, announced on June 24, after "an appeal from the masses", that he had reversed a decision made public in July 2005 not to seek a new presidential term.

 

He was the first to register his candidacy in parliament on Tuesday after the week-long registration opened.

 

Seven opposition parties have joined to nominate a rival to Saleh, picking Faisal bin Shamlan, the Islamist-leaning former oil minister, as their presidential candidate.

 

The date of the election has not been announced, but it is expected to take place in the second part of September.

 

Saleh's re-election is seen as a foregone conclusion.

 

Fighting terrorism

 

"My future tasks include the huge development file... and that  of the energy production required to meet growing needs, including  producing electricity through nuclear energy”

Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president

The 64-year-old field marshal has been at Yemen's helm for nearly three decades, first as president of North Yemen and later as head of the unified state after the May 1990 merger between north and south.

 

Saleh said that if re-elected, he would focus on combating poverty and unemployment, as well as fighting terrorism and Islamist extremism.

 

Yemen has cracked down on al-Qaeda suspects with US help since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

  

Twenty hopefuls turned up to register their candidacies for the presidential election on Tuesday, parliamentary sources said.

  

But a commission charged with handling candidacies accepted only seven of them as the others did not meet the legal requirements.

 

Dhikra Ahmad Ali, a woman journalist and comedian, was among those accepted as candidates.

 

For a candidate to stand in the election, he or she must also be endorsed by 5% of the members of the elected parliament and the appointed Majlis ash-Shura (Consultative Council) during a joint session on July 26.