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Yemen elections: Only one choice, but is it still progress?

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Saleh agreed to step down after the Gulf Cooperation Council brokered an agreement in November. As part of the deal, Yemenis will redraft their constitution and have a referendum to prepare for competitive elections in two years time.

Is it really an election?

Still, even among those who supported the GCC agreement, there is some frustration that elections are being used to hand power to Mr. Hadi.

Hassan Zaid was among the signatories of the agreement and supports Hadi as the new president of Yemen, but he says using an election to grant him power risks leaving Yemenis disenchanted with the election process. 

“If they say it is a kind of rally to support this GCC agreement, a lot of people would support this, but don’t tell people that it’s an election,” says Mr. Hassan, secretary general for the opposition’s Haq Party. “What’s happening now is a violation of our constitutional legitimacy and ridiculing the election process.”

Despite his dissatisfaction, Hassan says he will still vote and show his support for Hadi. 

The US has already officially backed Hadi via an official letter from President Barack Obama in which he wrote that he looks forward to cooperating with Hadi. With the Al Qaeda threat still large in Yemen, where the US conducts regular drone operations, relations with the new Yemeni leader will be critical.

“It is a very unique kind election, but it will begin what we hope is a process of substantial change in the society over the next two years that will culminate in February 2014 with what we anticipate will be a full, fair, and free democratic election,” says Gerald Feierstein, US Ambassador to Yemen.

Many young, few jobs

A year after the unrest began in Yemen, the biggest challenges may extend far beyond the transition currently underway.

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