Election season has started early this year in Yemen. Major General Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has announced his presidential bid today, urging allies both domestic and international to help sweep him into office.
Hadi is heavily backed by the US government and is also the candidate of choice for the ruling party, which would have virtually assured his election even if there had been somebody running against him. In this case, however, there is not.
The Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) negotiated an agreement with the political opposition designed to end their participation in pro-democracy protests, giving them the prime ministership on the condition that they promise unanimously to nominate Hadi, making this a one candidate race.
Hadi said his election will be a “message of hope” and voters will send a strong message that they reject “terrorism” by voting for him. He termed the single-candidate election a “noble task” for those running the election.
Though the election would appear to be a mere formality, Hadi also has a serious interest in getting out the vote to give his reign, the result of a backroom deal under intense US and Saudi pressure, at least some modicum of legitimacy. The Houthi secessionist movement in the far north has already vowed to boycott the election, as have the southern secessionists. With much of the pro-democracy movement also unimpressed by the deal, a low turnout could leave Hadi in an extremely weak position.