Saleh urges Yemenis to vote for his successor in Tuesday’s referendum

Yemeni deputy president Mansour Hadi is set to take office for a transitional period of two years. (Reuters)

Outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh urged Yemenis to vote for his successor Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in Tuesday’s referendum-like elections to ensure a “peaceful” transition of power, state media reported.

“I invite you to actively participate in this democratic event and to head to ballot boxes to vote for Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi” as future president, Saleh said in a speech addressed to Yemenis, published by the Saba news agency.

“This event comes as part of (the plan) we have adopted for a peaceful and smooth transition of power that would take our people out of this year-long crisis that has brought development to a halt,” Saleh said, referring to a Gulf-brokered plan he signed in November.

Outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh urged Yemenis to vote for his successor Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in Tuesday’s referendum-like elections to ensure a “peaceful” transition of power, state media reported.

“I invite you to actively participate in this democratic event and to head to ballot boxes to vote for Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi” as future president, Saleh said in a speech addressed to Yemenis, published by the Saba news agency.

“This event comes as part of (the plan) we have adopted for a peaceful and smooth transition of power that would take our people out of this year-long crisis that has brought development to a halt,” Saleh said, referring to a Gulf-brokered plan he signed in November.

Foreign aid needed

Yemenis are set to draw a line under three decades of autocratic rule by voting in an uncontested election on Tuesday to install Hadi, as the country’s leader.

In a televised speech broadcast late Sunday, Hadi called for urgent foreign aid to help revive the country’s shattered economy, and pledged to address the concerns of southern separatists and northern rebels.
He outlined his government’s two-year plan, focusing on the need to reunify the army, destroy al-Qaeda, and carry-out “radical reforms.”

Resolving the “economic problem is our top priority, but our current circumstances and the consequences of the recent (political) crisis has forced us to ask for help,” Hadi said in his address.

“This is why we are renewing our request for urgent aid and support from brotherly and friendly countries to allocate funds,” pledged by donors and friends of Yemen.

He further proposed the “establishment of an emergency fund to help the Yemeni government overcome the current economic crisis.”

The International Monetary Fund has said it is ready to discuss fresh aid when the situation in Yemen is calmer, but it may not be willing until there is a government in place that can adopt and implement economic reforms.

Violence ahead of vote

The future president has already won backing from the country’s Republican Guard and security forces, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported, as election preparations across cities of Sana’a and Taez were underway.

But there were reports of violence on Monday after an explosion tore through a polling station in the southern Yemeni city of Aden and gunfire was heard shortly after the blast.

“The explosion caused a big hole in the building’s wall and shattered the window glass of nearby houses,” the official said, according to Reuters.

After a year-old anti-government uprising which sought to oust the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country has met many crossroads.

The unrest was embroiled with diplomatic wrangling when Saleh handed over power to Hadi after the former leader was presented with a deal by the country’s powerful Gulf Arab neighbors.

The Arabs, fearful of a slide into lawlessness on their doorstep, and backed by the United States, carried through their initiative by seeing that Hadi be rubber-stamped as the country’s new leader in presidential elections.

U.S. backing

President Barack Obama on Sunday announced his backing behind Hadi in what the United States sees as a new leader crucial to the fight against al-Qaeda.

In the letter, Obama said he looks forward to deeper relations between the two countries and vows that the U.S. will be “a strong and reliable partner,” according to reports carried by the Associated Press.

He also said he hoped Yemen’s political transformation would inspire other Middle East nations facing political transitions.

“I know you face challenges ahead, but I am optimistic that Yemen can emerge as a model for how peaceful transition in the Middle East can occur when people resist violence and unite under a common cause,” he said.

Yemen’s active al-Qaeda branch, which has carried out attacks in the U.S., has exploited the unrest to seize territory in the country’s south.

The U.S. has long considered Saleh a necessary but unreliable ally in the fight against the al-Qaeda branch, and has been actively involved in brokering a deal to ease the crisis.

Comments »

Post Your Comment »

Social Media »