Yesterday, voters in Yemen went to the polls bringing an end to the three decade rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
This election is different than most because there’s only one candidate on the ballot--Saleh’s Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and no one is complaining about it. In most countries, if there was a one candidate presidential election, democracy advocates would be fuming over a lack of political choice and probably accuse the government of a blatant power grab.
But in Yemen, the process is viewed as necessary to peacefully remove Saleh from power and begin the process towards future democratic elections.
I share the view of some Yemenis that such exercises could leave Yemenis discontented with the electoral process. What if where just anointing a new autocrat, who will use his electoral victory and the very real threat of Al Qaeda to seize the reigns of power?
However, it is vitally important that Yemen has a leader that is seen a legitimate to the Yemeni people.
I realize these points may be contradictory, but I think we have to accept that both sides raise valid issues.
I hope that Hadi will stand for competitive elections in two years and won’t use this “election” as a Western issued “blank check for autocracy.”