Yemenis go to polls as violence flares up

February 21st, 2012 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Sanaa, Feb 21 (IANS) Yemenis headed for polling stations Tuesday to vote for a successor to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, hoping to pull the impoverished country back from possible civil war.

More than 10 million eligible voters are expected to cast their ballots at about 29,000 polling stations across Yemen, with over 100,000 soldiers guarding the process. However, a string of attacks on election committees flared up in the country’s restive southern regions, reported Xinhua.

Under a Gulf-brokered power transfer deal signed by Saleh and the opposition in November 2011 in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, the outgoing president handed over power to his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the only consensus candidate in Tuesday’s poll, in return for immunity from prosecution.

On the eve of the polls, there were explosions at polling stations and clashes between security forces and anti-government militants in the county’s south, leaving at least two soldiers dead and more than 10 injured and raising fears Tuesday’s voting would be marred by violence.

Yemen’s new president will lead a two-year transitional government, tasked with amending the constitution and holding parliamentary elections, according to the Gulf-brokered deal.

During a speech Sunday, Hadi vowed to revive the country’s shattered economy and intensify the fight against Al Qaeda networks in Yemen.

He also promised to launch a national dialogue involving all political factions in the Arab country to settle the political crisis that has dragged it to the edge of civil war.

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