Yemen elects new leader in walkover election

Following a year of turmoil Yemen has elected a new leader, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is officially replacing the outgoing President Saleh. However, the vote was far from democratic with Hadi being the only option on ballot papers.

Field Marshal Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Saleh’s close confidant, has served as the country’s vice president since 1994. He is now tasked with implementing the US and Gulf States-backed power transfer deal which was signed by Saleh in November.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled Yemen for 33 years, is the fourth autocrat to leave power after the Arab Spring uprising swept away the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Hadi is set to be declared president in the coming days and will inherit an impoverished nation battered by political and economic problems, rebellions and separatism.

"This is a qualitative leap for modern Yemen," Hadi said on Tuesday after casting his vote. "There will be big political, economic and social change, which is the way out of the crisis that has ravaged the country."

Violence was reported on the day of the election in southern Yemen, where separatists demanded an election boycott, Reuters says.

The separatists stormed polling stations and security forces fired on protesters. At least nine people were killed.

Even though the elections featured only one candidate the vote was praised by the United States. "We consider it to be a very strong and positive referendum by the Yemeni people on the transition process that their leaders have agreed to," said US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

­“This is not a democratic election,“ journalist and author Susan Lindauer told RT, explaining that this is just a gracious way to get President Saleh off the international stage.

Lindauer believes that the unstable situation in Yemen is a “far greater threat to American security than Iran.” She explains that the deep poverty there allows Al Qaeda to alienate the population from the central government and the United States and its allies. “Al Qaeda’s primary interest is to use Yemen as a launching point for attacks on Saudi oil fields right next door.”

However the journalist doubts that Yemen is slipping into civil war. “The country is alienated from the central government. But they are not fighting each other – they are fighting against the ruling elite.”