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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 September 2006, 21:37 GMT 22:37 UK
Yemeni leader wins by landslide
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh
Ali Abdullah Saleh has been in power for 28 years
Yemen's long-running President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has been re-elected to another seven-year term, gaining 77% of the vote according to state-run TV.

It was the first time Mr Saleh had faced a serious challenge since coming to power 28 years ago.

His main opponent, former Oil Minister Faisal al-Shamlan, received 21.8% of the votes in Wednesday's election.

International monitors said the vote was fair despite protests from the opposition that it was illegal.

Firing and fireworks were heard in the capital after the results were announced.

The head of the EU's monitoring mission, British peer Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, described the election as "an open and genuine political contest" and a "milestone in Yemen's political history".

She added the presidential vote, which was accompanied by council elections, generally met international standards.

'Forged votes'

Yemen's Foreign Minister, Abubakr al-Qirbi, also dismissed claims of election fraud.

He said the government had made "a tremendous effort to ensure that there is no foul play, no rigging of the election."

But Ali al-Sarari, a spokesman for the main Common Forum group headed by Mr Shamlan, said the results were false.

"We have documents that prove the forging of two million votes, which were for Shamlan but were counted in favour of Saleh," he told the AFP news agency.

The election was being seen as a test of the government's commitment to tackling corruption.

Voting was mainly peaceful, although at least three people were killed in fighting between rival supporters, including two opposition candidates.

Roughly five million of the 9.2 million eligible Yemenis cast ballots, the electoral commission said.

It was only the second presidential vote since north and south Yemen united in 1990.


SEE ALSO
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12 Sep 06 |  Middle East
Country profile: Yemen
12 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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