Yemen has begun a publicity campaign to get citizens to vote in the upcoming presidential election, officials said on Monday, part of a deal to ease President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office and pull the country back from the brink of civil war. With Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi as the only candidate in the Feb. 21 vote, there are fears of a low turnout that would dent the legitimacy of the man expected to lead Yemen during a two-year interim period when crucial decisions, dealing with restructuring the armed forms and introducing constitutional reforms, are expected to be taken. “Your vote protects Yemen,” read a giant poster hung in the capital Sanaa, depicting a smiling woman in a pink headscarf as she places her ballot into a voting box.
Abdul Wahhab al-Qudsi, head of the electoral commission’s external relations, said preparations for the vote were in full swing. “(Our) main committee has gone to different provinces and the subcommittee will go off this weekend,” he told Reuters.
It will be the first time in 33 years that a candidate other than Saleh — now in the United States for treatment of injuries sustained in an assassination attempt last year — will head the impoverished Arab state, located along key oil shipping routes.