Last updated: 7 February, 2012

Yemen’s sole presidential candidate starts campaign

Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, Yemen’s acting head of state since veteran leader Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down, on Tuesday launched his campaign for a February 21 presidential poll.

Hadi is the sole candidate in the referendum-like election to be held under the Gulf-brokered deal which President Saleh signed after months of deadly street protests to hand over his powers to Hadi.

The consensus candidate between the former opposition, which now leads a national unity government, and Saleh’s party, the General People’s Congress, said the poll represented a “first step towards a secured future.”

“This election represents the best way out of the political crisis that could have turned into a civil war,” Hadi told participants at a ceremony to launch his campaign.

He warned of “difficult days” ahead but said he was “sure of the ability to overcome” difficulties. “People are no longer able to be patient over the suffering that has lasted longer that it should have,” the vice president said.

He referred to “regional and international determination to help Yemen” defuse its political crisis, which broke out in January 2011 with protests demanding the ouster of Saleh, who had been in power since 1978.

Saleh signed the Gulf initiative on November 23 after months of stalling, handing over power to Hadi to implement the plan and organise an early election within a 90-day period.

Saleh, who has been in New York since late January for medical treatment for injuries from a June bomb blast, remains honorary president until Hadi is elected president for an interim two-year period.

US officials have said he will not return to Yemen until after the election.