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Yemenis go to polls as violence flares up in southern regions (2)

(Xinhua)

08:10, February 22, 2012

Hail al-Masanee, 29, waiting in one of the queues, said that " Today is a historical day for Yemen... a victory of our one-year struggle for freedom... and if Hadi fails to introduce reforms as he promised, he will face the same fate of Saleh."

More than 20 polling stations in cities under the control of al- Qaida, separatist Southern Movement and Houthi-led Shiite rebels in the southern provinces of Abyan, Shabwa, Aden, al-Djalee and Hajja and the northern provinces of Saada and Hajja were closed by anti-election groups.

Yemen's new president will lead a two-year transitional government tasked with amending the constitution and holding parliamentary elections, according to the Gulf-brokered deal.

In a speech delivered on Sunday, Hadi vowed to revive the country's shattered economy and intensify the fight against al- Qaida networks in Yemen.

He also promised to launch a national dialogue involving all the political factions in Yemen to settle the political crisis that has dragged the country to the edge of a civil war.

However, Shiite Houthi rebels in the north and the Southern Movement, the two major opposition groups, have rejected the legitimacy of Hadi and the transitional government and called on voters to boycott the election.

Explosions and heavy gunfire were heard overnight near several police stations and voting centers in the southeastern provinces of Hadramout and Shabwa, as well as in the port city of Aden.

Militants from the Southern Movement clashed Tuesday morning with Yemeni security forces in Hadramout, killing at least two policemen and injuring five others, witnesses and police officers told Xinhua.

Fierce clashes erupted between the government forces and armed secessionist after the latter raided some polling stations with home-made grenades in an attempt to disrupt voting in the coastal city of Mukalla, Hadramout's provincial capital, a local police officer said on condition of anonymity.

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