Yemenis decide their future [Archives:2006/983/Front Page]

September 21 2006

Yemen Times Staff
SANA'A, Sept. 20 ) Yemenis registered for voting yesterday totalled 9,247,372 of which 42% were women. The voting process was distributed among 333 districts and 27010 sub committees, where the citizens elected their next president and local council members at the district and governorate levels.

Results of the Sept. 20 presidential election will be announced as soon as vote counting at each polling center is complete, with the final result being announced 72 hours after polls close, according to Khalid Al-Shareef, chairman of the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER).

It was the second local council election, the first of which was held in 2001. This year's local council contests coincided with the race for Yemen's presidency, the second time Yemenis have elected the president of the republic directly since the first direct presidential election on Sept. 13, 1999.

Since unification, Yemen has held five direct elections: three races for Parliament seats, 1999 Presidential elections and 2001 Local Council elections.

In this year's presidential and local council elections, registered voters increased this year by 30 percent, as compared to the total number of voters in the April 2003 parliamentary elections. The increase implies growing electoral awareness among Yemenis and enthusiasm to participate in the electoral process.

More than 98,000 Yemeni citizens – including 35,000 women – participated on election committees and subcommittees, and of that total, 81,030 were candidates' agents to monitor the process at polling centers. Election committees and subcommittees consisted of both ruling party and opposition members.

One day before the elections, Al-Shareef declared suspension of the one-constituency system which allowed for Yemenis to vote in centers other than where they were registered originally, a source of debate between the SCER and the Joint Meeting Parties, who viewed it as a successful means of forgery. “Suspending the one-constituency system does violate the law; however, it's better than doubting the election's results,” Al-Shareef noted.

Voting results are planned to be announced at each polling center, as ballot boxes weren't to be removed from the centers to ensure voting transparency and integrity.

Five presidential candidates competed for the nation's highest post, while 1,636 candidates, including 22 women, and 18,928 candidates, including 129 women, contested local council posts at the governorate and district levels, respectively. However, only 431 local council candidates at the governorate level and 7,000 candidates seeking posts at the district level will win seats.

Monday, Sept. 18, was the last day of campaigning for the presidential candidates, with pre-election days witnessing excitement, criticism and controversy over the spread of corruption, a phenomenon opposition parties attribute to policies pursued by the regime and the ruling party.