Elections results claimed rigged in Amran [Archives:2006/984/Front Page]

September 25 2006

Saddam Al-Ashmori
AMRAN, Sept. 23 ) The Sept. 20 elections resulted in an overwhelming victory for the General People's Congress (GPC) in Amran governorate at both the presidential and local council levels.

The party won 15 of the 20 local council seats allocated to Amran governorate, while the JMP won just three and independents won the other two. GPC presidential candidate Ali Abdullah Saleh won with 75 percent of votes, while opposition candidate Faisal Bin Shamlan received 25 percent.

Amran was one of the governorates the JMP had bet on and witnessed heated competition during campaigning, leading to a high alert among the governorate's security forces. Further, armed forces – around 310 armored brigades – reinforced some voting centers.

The voting process in Amran appeared quiet until about noon, when some voting centers began witnessing infringements.

Refusing to vote publicly for the GPC presidential candidate, the 10th constituency polling center in Bani Qais was closed in front of voters by an influential GPC personality.

In related news, a clash involving small arms between some citizens over elections in Al-Athah area resulted in critically injuring a man, who was rushed to the hospital. Reacting to the incident, security forces fired bullets into the air to disperse the quarreling parties.

Additionally, security forces arrested JMP candidate Nasser Al-Khidri, accusing him of tearing down President Saleh's photo in his area.

Sheikhs and dignitaries from Constituency No. 228 also forced voters to vote publicly in front of committees.

Some observers had bet on Amran governorate to go to the JMP presidential candidate and they believe the GPC used all possible means to gain the maximum number of votes in the governorate.

Amran Observer Fuad Al-Mahbashi said the electoral process was worse than in past elections, noting that ballots were sent to and distributed in Amran polling centers on the eve of Sept. 20 to educate voters, particularly elderly women, on how to mark them the next day.

He further added that the GPC distributed large sums of money to all Amran voting centers, approaching YR 800,000 for each center.

In a related matter, influential governorate individuals summoned all heads of primary election committees and subcommittees to a meeting, asking them to swear allegiance to the GPC. One such committee head wishing to remain anonymous confirmed that he was called to a government building and asked to swear his support of the GPC.

Teachers also didn't escape threats and further, were asked when meeting with heads of educational centers to elect GPC candidates or they would lose their jobs.

The Yemen Times visited some Amran voting centers and found that most centers lacked observers, either national or foreign. When attempting to take photographs, some official and security parties prevented us from doing so. Most international observers didn't visit voting centers outside Amran's capital, thus many infringements and violations were committed, according to an observer who refused to give his name. He added that toward the end of the day, extra ballots were marked for GPC candidates in front of election committees, which remained idle.