Yemen election timetable slipping

2012-01-18 21:50

Sana'a - Presidential elections set for next month in Yemen will take place on time, the head of the parliamentary bloc representing President Ali Abdullah Saleh's party said on Wednesday.

"The elections will take place on time as we are exerting all efforts to make sure it takes place as scheduled," said Sultan al-Barakani, head of the General People's Congress parliamentary bloc.

"But if the security situation worsens, this might be an obstacle," Barakani told reporters.

Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Kurbi has warned that insecurity resulting from months of mass protests and political unrest could delay presidential elections planned for next month.

"If we don't deal with the security challenges... it might be difficult to hold elections [as scheduled] on February 21," Kurbi said in an interview with Al-Arabiya television on Tuesday.

His comments came after news that al-Qaeda militants had taken control of a town just 130km southeast of the capital, marking a significant advance towards Sana'a for the jihadists.

But defence ministry news website said Kurbi denied making such statement.

On time

Kurbi has affirmed to that "the unity government is committed to organising the presidential election on time without any delay in accordance with the Gulf initiative and its roadmap," it reported.

He was referring to a Gulf-brokered transfer of power deal which Saleh signed up to in November that set a timetable for his successor's election.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern over the apparent slippage in the transition timetable.

"We regret that the president has failed to comply with his own commitment to leave the country and to permit elections," Clinton said.

State news agency Saba reported on Wednesday that Kurbi met the UN envoy to Yemen, the US ambassador and the head of the EU delegation, all of whom affirmed the importance of "moving ahead with the Gulf initiative" and its timetable.

The GPC "signed the Gulf initiative when the security situation was worse than it is now. There is no excuse to postpone elections now," said MP Mohammed al-Hazmi from the Islamist Al-Islah (reform), the largest opposition party.

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