Clinton Applauds Yemen’s Presidential Election
On Tuesday, Yemenis participated in a national vote ending President Ali Abdullah Saleh‘s 33-year rule. In a written statement Saleh bid a “farewell to the authority,” and “I remain with you a citizen loyal to his homeland, his people and his nation.” With only one candidate on the ballot, current vice president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Had, only needed a vote to win the election. Electoral officials reported that voter turnout reached 60 per cent nationwide, with lower voter turnout in the southern regions, but the manual ballot count could take up to 10 days to tally before official results are revealed. Throughout the country nine were killed in election day violence as “outlaws” attacked polling stations.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the presidential election as “another important step forward in their democratic transition process.” While Victoria Nuland, spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, acknowledged that a one-person vote was not a “true democracy” but called it a “beginning point” for a more competitive process. Mohammed al-Rowdy, a voter who works with the Interior Ministry, is optimistic about the future, ”it’s the first time people in Yemen are electing somebody on their own, without being influenced by political parties.”
Many recognize that the transition of power is merely a first step for Yemen’s future. The U.S. is expected to play a leading role in the restructuring of Yemen’s armed forces, as John Brennan, President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, calls for “a national army and national military that is going to fight against Al Qaeda.” Reporting for Al Jazeera Hashem Ahelberra believes that Yemeni people are looking for two things: a “new political establishment where the rule of law, democracy, pluralism and free elections would become part of a ritual here,” and for ” the president to address the dire economic situation as Yemen remains one of the poorest countries in the world.”