The final count showed on Saturday that Saleh's main opponent Faisal al-Shamlan, a former oil minister, received 21.8 per cent of the total six million votes cast from Wednesday’s election.

   

The television said turnover was 65 per cent of the 9.3 million registered voters in the polls, held also to elect municipal councils.

 

Yemen's opposition accused authorities on Friday of rigging the presidential election and threatened to launch street protests.

 

Rigging charges

   

Opposition politicians accused the government of seizing polling stations, evicting candidates' representatives, stealing ballot boxes and committing irregularities in vote-counting for local councils.

 

On Saturday, they said Saleh's victory was "illegal"

after the final results were announced.  

 

Ali al-Sarari, the spokesman of the opposition Common Forum, which had fielded Shamlan to challenge Saleh, said: "We reject this result which is illegal, and came through a presidential order,"

 

"We reject this result which is illegal, and came through a presidential order"

Ali al-Sarari, the spokesman of the opposition Common Forum

"We have documents that prove the forging of two million votes, which were for Shamlan but were counted in favour of Saleh," he said, shortly after the results of the polls were confirmed officially.

 

He charged that the results were "false" saying that three members of the election commission "expressed reservations" over the figures.

   

Saleh faced four other candidates, including Shamlan who was nominated by a coalition of opposition parties.

   

Saleh, a military officer who has ruled Yemen since its unification in 1990, enjoys near-absolute power.

 

He won the first direct election in 1999, which the opposition boycotted.