Yemeni officials on Tuesday dismissed rumors that next month’s presidential elections in Yemen would be delayed, after the foreign minister said this week that the unrest is making the election date “too difficult.”
Vice President Abdurabu Hadi, the military strongman set to replace longstanding dictator and U.S. ally Ali Abdullah Saleh in early elections on February 21, issued a statement condemning the foreign minister’s comments and making assurances that any delay in the elections are unacceptable.
The Obama administration is watching developments in Yemen closely, having sided with Vice President Hadi months ago and confidently expecting him to win the elections. The U.S. is conducting an intermittent drone war in Yemen and is likely conducting extensive covert operations there and so support for the leadership, no matter how horrible, will continue.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed this cooperation this week. “We remain focused on the threat posed by al Qaeda in Yemen, and we’ll continue to work with our partners there and elsewhere to ensure that al Qaeda does not gain a foothold in the Arabian Peninsula through actions that would undermine the stability of Yemen and the region,” she said.
Saleh has held onto his dictatorial power despite signing a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative in November, which granted him amnesty in exchange for agreeing to step down after months of widespread protests and violence against his rule.
The deal was supported by the U.S., despite the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights declaring that granting amnesty to those who perpetrated human rights abuses and possible war crimes would be against international law.Many saw the agreement as protecting a U.S.-supported tyrant from being held accountable for massive crimes against civilians.