February 25, 2012 / 1:17 AM / 7 years ago

Yemen says vote turnout over 60 percent despite boycott

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen said on Friday more than 60 percent of eligible voters had taken part in a one-candidate election to replace President Ali Abdullah Saleh with his deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, though many areas of the country boycotted the poll.

Mohammed Hussein al-Hakimi, head of the body that oversaw Tuesday’s election, said 6.6 million people voted out of a total of some 10 million who registered, plus others who were of voting age but had not been registered.

“This number...6,653,192 who voted for the presidential candidate, represents 99.8 of valid votes, and renders him (Hadi) the victorious candidate,” he said.

“We wish him success in his future duties. Peace and God’s blessings be upon you.”

A total of 15,974 voters marked ballots to indicate they did not approve of Hadi’s candidacy, he added.

A high turnout was deemed crucial to Hadi’s legitimacy, but the vote was rejected in advance in wide swathes of the country, notably the south, where secessionists urged a boycott.

Election day violence left at least nine dead and polling was cut short in Yemen’s second city, Aden.

The vote made Saleh, who during 33 years as president oversaw the unification of his north with the formerly independent south, and a subsequent civil war, the fourth Arab leader removed from power in more than a year of mass uprisings and war that have redrawn the political map of the Middle East.

Yemen’s richer neighbours, led by Saudi Arabia, crafted the power transfer, also backed by Washington and a U.N. Security Council resolution, to ease out Saleh, fearing chaos could empower the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda near oil shipping routes.

The pact enshrines Hadi as the head of state and key figure in a proposed two-year political transition that envisions parliamentary elections, a new constitution and restructuring of the military in which Saleh’s son and nephew still hold power.

Editing by Michael Roddy

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