A number of youth activists opted not to participate, but they did not speak out against the elections or try to stop or discourage people from voting.
Although Yemen’s youth played a key role in the protest, their leadership was not represented in the transition agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which laid the groundwork for the election.
“We as youth had nothing to do with the GCC agreement and politics. What is happening now is a result of the GCC. We are not going to oppose it, but we are not going to participate,” says Osama Shamsan, a student who has been involved in protests for the last year. He also says he is open to Hadi as the new leader, adding, “If he’s committed to serving our country in the best possible way we will support him, but if not, we already know how to send him off.”
In the south, final voter turnout is expected to be much lower than in the capital due to secessionists’ calls to boycott the election and threats against polling centers. Voting day saw one major attack in Aden, the largest city in the south that left at least four dead and 19 injured. There were also reports of intimidation and other incidents throughout the south.
Many southerners have long felt excluded from the political process. They were not represented at the GCC agreement.
“Most of us agree that we want to stop the bloodshed, and those who want to start the era of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi want to only with the condition that it’s going to be different, only on the condition that they’re going to have good outreach to the southerners, the youth, and the Houthis,” says Jamila Raja, executive director of Consult Yemen, a political consulting firm in Sanaa. “We’re all skeptical about what’s going to happen. Will Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi prove that he’s not a weak president? The odds are against him.”