Presidential campaign launched with international blessing
At the launch, Hadi said, “We are determined to overcome our plight through an open dialogue to restore the natural context of the crisis away from terrorism, extremism, corruption and tendencies of regionalism and racism.”
Judge Mohammed Al-Hakimi, chief of the elections commission, asserted that the commission would remain a “non-political independent entity,” adding, “These elections present a turning point for Yemen from a past with its negatives and positives and a future we hope will be prosperous.
The launch, which was attended by high-ranking officials from the coalition government as well as representatives from the international community and the UN, included the distribution of posters and campaigning materials encouraging Yemenis to participate in the elections, despite the fact that there is just one candidate.
“There is close coordination between the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] electoral support program, which is supported by the international community and SCER in order to make these elections a success,” said Darren Nance, Elections Coordinator at the UNDP.
“Your vote protects Yemen,” was the slogan of the campaign, which includes posters and banners in the main streets around the country, advertisements in the media and public events.
Thirty vehicles and 102 volunteers dedicated to the campaign have started their work, aimed at increasing Yemeni awareness of the importance in participating in the coming presidential elections across the country’s 21 governorates.
Earlier events specifically targeting women were organized by the Women’s Department in SCER.
Despite financial and technical support from the international community, and the official backing of Hadi as the sole candidate, many Yemenis are disinterested in participating in the elections, considering it a sham.
“What difference would my vote make? It is just one candidate I would feel ridiculous going to the ballot boxes to tick next to the only option I have,” said Mohammed, an artist and activist from Sana’a.
Others completely oppose the Gulf Initiative, which allowed for Saleh to leave the country without prosecution and which is the foundation for the elections.
“We don’t recognize these elections because they are a result of the Gulf Initiative which we are against,” explained Areej Al-Khawlani, a protestor from Change Square and a strong opponent of the elections. “Now it is a reality that we can’t ignore but I will not participate especially since Hadi now is being portrayed as the new savior of Yemen.”
However, some other youths have been persuaded by the campaign or other means and are ready to participate.
“I will definitely participate in the coming elections because I believe it will give the new president national legitimacy, it will protect Yemen against civil war and it will put a real end to Saleh’s regime,” said Gamal Alghazaly a 30-year-old computer engineer.
Amira Al-Arasi, a journalist, agrees and believes that if Yemenis do not participate they will actually be endorsing Saleh as president.
“We are with change; and anyone who refrains from voting is a very passive person. As it is elections are the transitional means for Yemen and we have to compromise and allow what is best for the Yemeni people,” she said.