Mixed praise for Yemeni election

Feb. 22, 2012 at 1:13 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- While Yemeni elections marked an important turning point for the country, there's plenty of work to be done, the U.S. secretary of state said.

Yemenis voted Tuesday in a one-man contest to replace Ali Abdullah Saleh as head of state. Saleh last year agreed to a political transition deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council in exchange for immunity, giving control of the country to Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, his vice president.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a congratulatory message to the Yemeni people, describing the election as "another important step forward in their democratic transition process and continues the important work of political and constitutional reform."

She added Washington would stand by the new government as it worked to implement reforms that she said would give the Yemeni people the "opportunity to realize their full potential."

"But there is still more work to be done," Clinton said. The GCC measure calls for a national dialogue conference to address national unity.

Turnout was mixed as some opposition groups called for a boycott. Mohammed al-Hakimi, head of Yemen's commission for elections, was quoted by state-run news agency Saba as saying there were reports of violence on Election Day.

"Such accidents were predictable in the light of the boycott calls, which have been turned out to confrontations, burning some ballot boxes and break in some stations," he was quoted as saying.

Saleh is in the United States receiving medical treatment for injuries suffered during a June assassination attempt.

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