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YEMEN - Sept 20 - Saleh Re-Elected President.

Pres Ali Abdullah Saleh is re-elected with a massive 82% of votes. The veteran politician was elected President for another seven-year term in nationwide elections held earlier in the day. Right from 8 in the morning when the polls opened, long queues formed outside polling stations in the capital Sanaa, where residents entering with their identification cards held aloft mingled with departing voters, whose thumbs were stained with indelible blue ink. Saleh, 64, was among the first to cast his vote at a polling station close to his palace in the upscale Hadda neighbourhood. "Today is a celebration of democracy for Yemen, a celebration for a new Yemen with the peaceful transition of power", Saleh told reporters afterward. The Presidential vote was held simultaneously with municipal elections. After indicating his choices in the curtained booth, Saleh put the different colored ballots into the transparent plastic boxes, then made a fingerprint next to his name on the voter list, in footage broadcast by pan-Arab satellite channels. Presidential ballots show a colored photo of each candidate next to his name and party symbol alongside a blank oval where the voter indicates his choice. Anthony Jones, an international observer with the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, said it is common for countries where illiteracy is high to put a party symbol and candidate picture on the ballot. Illiteracy in Yemen, a country of 21 million, is estimated at 49%. Saleh, who has been in power for 28 years, fought off a challenge from four candidates. Among the four challengers, the opposition's Presidential candidate, Faisal Bin-Shamlan, 72, who was backed by the country's five major opposition parties, was widely seen as the first serious challenger to Saleh. Bin-Shamlan voted in his home village in the Hadhramout province, some 900 km east of Sanaa. Authorities had deployed more than 89,000 army and police troops to guard 5,620 polling centers across the country where more than nine million eligible voters were registered. By midday, 3m out of a total 9.2m voters had made their choice, election officials said. Voting was initially scheduled to end at 6 p.m. but the election commission extended the voting period for two more hours, citing high turnout. At least three people were killed and six injured in violent clashes in two provinces, security sources said. "I voted for Pres Saleh", said Adel Muhammad, a 23-year-old technician at a polling station in the northern Sanaa suburb of Al-Jeraf. "He is the one who could make our lives better".
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Title Annotation:Ali Abdullah Saleh
Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7YEME
Date:Sep 23, 2006
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