Yemen Sets Presidential Election Date

Posted November 26th, 2011 at 7:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Yemen has announced a February 21 date for presidential elections, just days after President Ali Abdullah Saleh accepted a deal that calls for him to transfer power to a subordinate.

Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi issued a decree on Saturday for the early voting.

On Wednesday, Mr. Saleh and Yemeni opposition leaders signed a plan brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council that calls for Mr. Saleh to hand power to his deputy, who will begin the process of forming a national unity government.

The transfer is designed to end months of swelling protests against Mr. Saleh's 33-year rule. However, the president's opponents have held a series of demonstrations against the agreement because it gives him immunity from prosecution.

Earlier Saturday, the French news agency said an opposition coalition had nominated Mohammed Basindawa to head a new national unity government. It says the former member of Mr. Saleh's ruling party was tapped for the position late Friday.

Meanwhile, the United States called on Yemen's ruling party and the opposition to “devote themselves fully” to implementing the power transfer as soon as possible.

U.S. President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser called Mr. Hadi after he announced the election date.

Washington worries al-Qaida militants in Yemen could seek to exploit political instability to strengthen their network in the country.