News / Middle East

Imperfect Election Marks Start of Yemen's Transition

People carry posters of Yemen's Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi during an election rally in Sana'a, February 20, 2012.
People carry posters of Yemen's Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi during an election rally in Sana'a, February 20, 2012.
Elizabeth Arrott

Yemenis are heading to the polls in an uncontested presidential election that is part of a negotiated end to the decades-long rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In a country long-dominated by one man, there is a new face on the scene. After nearly 34 years, Ali Abdullah Saleh is on his way out, and Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is set to become president. But the face plastered on posters all over the capital is not unfamiliar.  Hadi is the current vice president, Saleh's handpicked successor, and the sole candidate in Tuesday's election.

For the protesters who brought the Arab Spring to the southern reaches of the Arabian Peninsula, this continuation of the old establishment is not what they envisioned. Adel Arabaei, a leading youth activist, says he considers it one of the stages of Yemen's political crisis. But it is not, he adds, directly tied to the youth movement, which wants a complete change of the system.

Watch related video after attackers in Aden blew up polling station

But even an imperfect election during this crisis is being seen as a milestone. After a year of a popular uprising that devolved into tribal fighting and invigorated the local al-Qaida branch, most people just want to find some sense of normal.

That is not easy in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world. Sana'a is set to become the world's first capital to run out of water. It is in such short supply that some pay a fifth of their income to get it.

Electricity is available, at best, a few hours a day.  Generators are essential, but the price of fuel to run them has spiked, along with other basic commodities.

The economic hardships are just part of the daunting challenges in setting up this special election.

Yemen High Electoral Commission Judge Yehia Mohamed al-Riany says colleagues have been assassinated trying to carry out their work in areas hostile to the vote, in rebel-held parts of the north and in separatist areas in the south.

Al-Riany says every citizen has the right to either vote or abstain, but no one has the right to act in violation of the law.

Yemen Elections Photo Gallery

For now, many Yemenis seem to be content to vote in an election that ushers in a transitional period. In the narrow alleyways of Sana'a's old city, silversmith Mohamed al-Saqal says there is a new optimism.

He says a year ago, people were desperate, but now, after these elections, Marshall Hadi will lead the country on a very successful path.

“Very successful” might be too much to hope for, but at least, say many, the election offers some kind of path.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs