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Middle East
Officials claim high turnout for Yemen vote
Officials say 60 per cent of voters participated in election set to confirm vice president Hadi as Yemen's new leader.
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2012 14:57

Vote counting is under way in Yemen, a day after a presidential election that is expected to confirm Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the current vice president, as the country's new leader.

Electoral officials said on Wednesday that voter turnout reached 60 per cent nationwide, despite threats of violence and boycott calls in some parts of the Arabian peninsula nation.

Votes are being counted manually and results are expected within two days, although they can take up to 10 days under Yemeni law.

Hadi, the 66-year-old former deputy to Yemen's long-time leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, was the lone candidate in the elections as part a US-backed one-candidate election.

Saleh agreed to step down after months of anti-government protests and clashes across the violence-wracked country.

More than 10 million Yemenis were eligible to vote in the referendum-like election.

The poll was marred by violence with 10 people killed across the country's south, most of them in the port city of Aden.

The voting percentage was low in most of the country’s south with turnout running at 50 per cent in Aden and between 30 to 40 per cent across other southern regions, officials said.

Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelberra, reporting from the capital Sanaa, said that any turnout upwards of 35 per cent was considered "very good news" for Hadi, enabling him to claim legitimate authority as he seeks international support for his leadership.

The election was backed by the Common Forum parliamentary opposition and youth groups who had led the uprising against Saleh.

However, two major opposition groups, the Southern Movement as well as northern Shia rebels, boycotted the polls.

Political role for Saleh?

Al Jazeera's Ahelberra said: "Basically Yemenis are looking for two things: Starting of a new nation from the scratch to lay the ground for new political establishment where the rule of law, democracy, pluralism and free elections would become part of a ritual here."

"At the same time they would like the president to address the dire economic situation as Yemen remains one of the poorest countries in the world," he said.

"They would also like this government to provide job opportunities and improving the living standard.

"The international community, particularly the US, the neighbouring countries and the GCC are saying, they are willing to provide Yemeni government with cash and with political support to move forward."

Mohammed al-Qadhi, Yemeni correspondent for Emirati newspaper, National, told Al Jazeera that deposed president Saleh was planning to make a comeback.

"Spokesman of Saleh party said that former president is definitely coming back so that he can participate in the inauguration of the new president," al-Qadhi said.

"He also said that Saleh was going to lead the party and that there was nothing in the GCC deal that prevented him from running again in coming elections.

"But he said that Saleh is not ready for any other post and will help in creating leaders of the future."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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