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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid