Briefing Paper

Presidential Elections: a new country or not?

February 21st, election day in Yemen, was a day of contrasts. Many Yemenis expressed their euphoria on emerging from polling stations, proudly revealing the finger stamped in ink that proved they had taken part, whereas in cities such as Aden or Al Muqalla tension was high throughout the day. Confrontations were reported between security forces and armed factions opposed to the elections, with a total of seven dead and some 50 percent of voting stations closed in the provinces of Aden and Saada. However, both reactions were foreseeable, as too was the barely-contained joy of many of those congregated in Change Square in Sanaa. The truth is that the 21 February election was hardly controversial. On the one hand, there was only one candidate, Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi, whose identity was agreed upon as part of the Gulf Initiative between the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and the ruling General People's Congress party (GPC). On the other hand, that candidate had been Saleh's vice-president since 1994 and thus, forms part of the regime.

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