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Cablegate: Yemeni Election Day Peaceful with High Turnout

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SANAA 000892

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM YM DEMOCRATIC REFORM
SUBJECT: YEMENI ELECTION DAY PEACEFUL WITH HIGH TURNOUT


1. (U) Summary: Yemen enjoyed an overwhelmingly peaceful
election day on April 27. Early results indicate that the
GPC will maintain its parliamentary majority, with opposition
parties increasing their seats. Voter turnout was very high,
estimated to be at least 70%. Election administration
appeared professional and well-organized despite some
irregularities. The only official international delegation,
organized by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), will
issue its preliminary assessment on April 29. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- --
Early Results Show Opposition Narrowing the Gap
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (U) While results are still coming in from most
constituencies 18 hours after the close of polls, preliminary
results from 20% of constituencies show the ruling General
People's Congress (GPC) leading but members of the opposition
Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) running close. Several
traditional GPC strongholds in Sanaa, for example, have seen
well-known GPC candidates lose to the Islah party. Analysts
say that Islah did well at least in part because of a strong
women's vote. However, the GPC is expected to maintain a
clear majority. Individual constituency results will be
announced by the election commission as they come in and
final results for all 301 constituencies will be announced by
the April 30 deadline. One ROYG official estimated that a
new government would be announced within two weeks.

------------------------------
Mostly Peaceful; High Turnout
------------------------------

3. (U) Sporadic violence marred the elections in some
areas, including Taiz, Amran, Dhamar and Hajira. According
to reliable sources, approximately 14 persons were injured in
clashes, primarily between the GPC and Islah. Uncorroborated
reports say that between one to three persons were killed.
At least one clash was clearly between rival tribes and
unrelated directly to the election. With almost 30 people
killed in Yemen's last elections in 2001 for local councils,
however, in comparison these elections were overwhelmingly
peaceful on election day. Possible reasons for the lack of
violence include the strong messages sent by the President,
the election commission, political parties and others for
non-violence and a "weapons free day," fewer candidates vying
for election and a strong security presence.

4. (U) The opening of polls saw huge crowds waiting outside
to vote, with Embassy observers reporting palpable enthusiasm
and eagerness on the part of voters. By midday, Embassy
observers were reporting between 50-65% of voters had already
cast their vote. By the close of polls, domestic and
international observers were estimating at least a 70%
turnout. High numbers of women voters were in evidence, with
some commissions reporting 80% turnout.

---------------------------------------------
Professional Administration;
Fairly Smooth Voting with Some Irregularities
---------------------------------------------

5. (U) Embassy observers, who received a warm welcome at
voting centers in Sanaa, Aden and Hadramaut, were impressed
at the professionalism of the election commissions, noting
that a vast majority were well-organized and smoothly run.
Observers reported that irregularities inside polling centers
appeared to be a result of poor training or knowledge rather
than organized fraud. One commissioner told an Embassy
observer, "it may not be perfect but we are getting better."
During the lengthy counting process, observers witnessed
painstakingly careful procedures to ensure its integrity,
with political party, NGO and international observers as
witnesses. Some technical irregularities reported by
observers include commissioners possibly influencing votes in
women's commissions in the course of explaining how to vote,
ballots in a few constituencies that contained faint markings
(likely a result of a printing error) that could influence
voters and some commissions that failed to use the
photographic voter lists to verify voter identity.

6. (U) Accusations by opposition parties of campaign
irregularities include vote-buying, politicking too close to
polls, interference by the GPC at some voting centers and use
of official media for partisan purposes.

7. (U) The National Democratic Institute (NDI) fielded a
30-member international delegation and organized between
6-10,000 non-partisan domestic NGO observers. NDI will issue
a preliminary statement assessing the election on April 29.
HULL

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