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Yemen: Yemen S-Election!

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

Yemen's Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was unanimously nominated by parliament as the only presidential candidate for Yemen's February 21 elections, has kicked off his campaign. Ironically, its motto is ‘Together to Build the New Yemen’ when many Yemenis were excluded from the US/United Nations-backed power transition deal brokered by neighboring Gulf countries.

Those who welcomed the election believe that voting is a step in the right direction for Yemen, to start a “new page” and “avoid getting into war”, albeit under the same regime and using a line that was overused throughout the year of revolution in Yemen.

Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi's campaign poster

Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi's campaign poster

The election supporters want Hadi to gain more than 4 million votes because that's what outgoing President Saleh got in the previous election, believing that would give Hadi “more legitimacy”, although he would be president regardless of the vote as per the the GCC brokered deal implementation mechanism, since he was already handed the executive powers.

Tom Finn, a freelance journalist based in Yemen, tweeted:

@tomfinn2: Though there's only 1 candidate most Yemenis I know are pretty positive about the elections, lots of talk of ‘turning a new page'.

He then added:

@gregorydjohnsen @adammbaron A large majority won't vote but I still think there'll be a bigger turn-out than expected..

He estimated the vote turnout to be as low as 15 per cent.

This video which is part of a series posted by YeElection on behalf of the Supreme Committee for Election and Referendum to promote the electoral campaign indicates that every voter has one vote and encourages people to cast their vote, yet it fails to mention that there is also only ONE candidate.

Many neitzens have questioned the point of the election, and thought it ought to be called an appointment or selection instead – since he is the vice president anyway and it is natural for him to rule during the transitional period. They also have argued that there was no need to waste funds on the election campaign and monitors, which are pointless since the result is known beforehand.

Whether Hadi gets one vote or five million, it will not change the outcome, especially when the necessary funds could have been allocated for the relief of other more pressing issues in Yemen. They could have gone to organizations which combat hunger in Yemen and some even suggested that part of of it could have gone to the families of the martyrs and treating the injured.

Facebook pages in Arabic and English were set up by activists to reject and boycott the elections.

Journalist Brian Whitaker tweeted:

@Brian_Whit: An “election” that allows only one candidate is not a real election bit.ly/AflZtW #yemen

He points in his blog:

The “election” itself is illegal and invalid because the Yemeni constitution states very clearly that there must be more than one candidate. Even Saleh accepted that principle in two previous presidential elections (while of course ensuring that opposition candidates never stood a chance of winning).

Here are some of tweets over this very controversial subject.

@The_Wadi tweeted an article that represented both views:

What do Yemenis think of the election? “We'll vote to avoid war.” “Why are there elections if there's no competition?” bit.ly/w2r1PC

@ginnyUK, associate fellow at Chatham House, who runs Yemen Forum, tweeted a genuine concern that many have:

lack of detailed planning for post-Feb 21 military restructuring, national dialogue, constitutional reform gives pause for thought #Yemen

Yemeni @SummerNasser added:

I guess it's up to citizen journalists to write up on the ‘selection’ (election) in #Yemen..

And Gregory Johnsen, a PHD candidate in Near Eastern studies and close observer of Yemen, tweeted:

@Gregorydjohnsen: Yemen's one-man presidential campaign brought to you by the US and the GCC.

He replied to a tweet teasingly:

Early polls suggest Hadi the favorite RT @Yemen411 Countdown for elections in #Yemen: 15 days & 18 Hours

And replying why there weren't other candidates, he responded:

@abuaardvark Others couldn't get parliamentary support to get on ballot – GCC deal has Hadi taking over, begs the question: why an election?

Adam Baron, @adammbaron, a freelance journalist currently in Yemen, noted:

@abuaardvark @gregorydjohnsen id say b/c elex mean sharia dostooria [translation: constitutional legitamcy], but a 1 man election is actually in violation of #Yemen's constitution

And Iona Craig, @ionacraig, the Times correspondent in Yemen mockingly tweeted:

Remind me. What's the point in having an election campaign when you're the sole candidate and there's no minimum turnout requirement?

@alruwaishan added:

You can argue a lot of things, but one man running against himself being an election is not one of them. #Yemen's “election” is ridiculous.

@al_masani replied:

@alruwaishan when ali saleh was prez AT LEAST he had a candidate running against him. things went from bad to worse 1 candidate? #yemen

@Brian_Whit wondered if Saleh was planning a comeback:

Could Saleh do Putin's trick? RT @ginnyUK: who will replace Hadi as VP when Hadi becomes president? #Yemen

And @SummerNasser concluded with a very likely scenario which many Yemeni would definitely reject:

Let me just give you all a heads up. Hadi will be in place, then in the future Ahmed (Saleh's son) will take over. Mark my words. #BFEY #Yemen

Many Yemenis believe that taking part in this election is pointless since the election results are pre-determined, as was the imposed GCC deal and the immunity it granted Saleh. They doubt that it will bring about any real change in Yemen in the foreseeable future with Hadi, another military man replacing Saleh, and thus that there is no prospect of the civil state which the revolution demanded, especially with Saleh's family still controlling the military apparatus and his regime still intact.

And as @abubakrabdullah points in his post in the Guardian's live blog:

Either way, an end to clashes and the provision of regular electricity, gas and water are more eagerly anticipated in Yemen than an election right now.

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

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