US 'encouraged' by Yemen vote
Washington - The United States said on Tuesday it was "encouraged" as Yemenis voted to end President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule and called for progress ahead in a transition to democracy.
"We are encouraged and we congratulate the Yemenis for really launching this process, taking ownership of it as a population, and we will stand with them as they take the next steps," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
"We consider it to be a very strong and positive referendum by the Yemeni people on the transition process that their leaders have agreed to," she told reporters.
Only one candidate was on the ballot, Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi , who will lead Yemen for a two-year interim period as stipulated by a Gulf-brokered power-transition deal signed by Saleh in November.
Nuland acknowledged that a one-person vote was not a "true democracy" but called it a "beginning point" for a more competitive process.
"After they have a new constitution, our expectation is it will lead to full, free, fair, multi-party, multi-candidate elections, both for the legislature and for the executive," Nuland said.
Saleh is in the United States for treatment of burn wounds he suffered when his presidential palace was attacked in June.