Yemen has "elected" a new president. Nasser Arrabyee looks at what this means
The overwhelming majority of Yemenis voted for a new president on Tuesday, ending the 33-year long reign of the president Ali Abdullah Saleh, aged 71.
The new President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi was the sole candidate of consensus in exceptional elections viewed by the majority of Yemenis and international and regional community as the only way to rescue Yemen from a civil war.
Hadi, 67, was highly supported by the international community when the two conflicting factions within Saleh's regime failed to end the one-year political crisis in the interest of one side.
Hadi is respected by almost all groups including those who defected from Saleh's regime and joined the youth revolution but failed to have what they called "revolutionary legitimacy" to be rulers.
Much of the respect given to Hadi from all Yemeni is because he is from the south which complains from being marginalised by the northerners.
Hadi served as vice president since after the 1994 civil war which erupted only four years after south and north united.
The last presidential election was in 2006 when the former president Saleh was elected in an election described by the international community as "reasonably free and competitive".
After about one year of anti-Saleh protests, Saleh now has gone, but his party and his supporters remain.
His party has 50 per cent of the ministries of the national unity government and his supporters were at least representing 50 per cent of the election turn out across the country on this week's elections.
Saleh's party, the General People Congress (GPC), has now three operating satellite channels, Yemen Today, Al-Akeek, and Azal.
The vice chairman of the supreme committee of the elections Khamis Al-Daini said the turn out "surprised everyone".
Only nine constituencies out of 301 did not hold elections, because of violent acts by those who refused the elections in the south and who demand independence. The overall turn out was estimated at more than 70 per cent.
The Yemeni political leaders and international diplomats in Yemen described the elections as historic and as the only way to rescue the conflict-torn country from a civil war.
"The election is a historic day, and it protected Yemen from a civil war," said the UN envoy, Jamal bin Omar, while visiting some of the polling stations in Sanaa on Tuesday.
"After elections, Yemenis will have a new social contract," added Bin Omar who orchestrated the Saudi-led and US-backed deal that led to such a political solution of the Yemeni crisis.
One day before the elections, former president Saleh called his supporters to vote for Hadi. "Today, I would say good-bye to the power, which should always be a responsibility not a privilege," said Saleh from New York where he finished further medical treatments for burns and injuries he sustained in an assassination attempt last June.
Saleh declared he would attend the installation ceremony of Hadi which is expected to be held late this week or early next week.
"Saleh will definitely return and attend the installation ceremony," Saleh's secretary Ahmed Al-Sufi told Al-Ahram Weekly. Al-Sufi expected the installation ceremony to be held on Thursday. Saleh will return as a normal citizen.
Yemenis' final goal is not achieved yet: the establishment of a civil state which protects rights and liberties of every one. Merely changing Saleh with Hadi is not the final goal of Yemenis.
The protesters in the streets still threaten to continue sitting in their tents until this final goal is achieved.
Mohamed Alwan, 25, said Tuesday he is ready to stay in his tent during the two-year transitional period of Hadi or even more than that if the civil state is not established. "Today I voted for Hadi, but I would keep staying in the tent until all our goals are achieved," said Alwan shortly after he voted in a poll station inside the Sanaa University where the protests square is located.
Before establishing the civil state which everyone is dreaming of, Yemenis with their new President Hadi need to open a comprehensive national dialogue to discuss and solve all big issues of those who refused the elections such as the issue of Al-Houthi in the northern province of Saada, and the issue of the south.
The second big thing to be done during the transitional period is the writing of a new constitution on which the would-be civil state will be based. France and Germany are helping Yemenis to write the new constitution.
In February 2014, a competitive presidential election is supposed to be held according to the new constitution. Hadi will set a date for parliamentary elections.