Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s closest aide before defecting to the opposition in March, said the Yemeni leader rigged the 2006 presidential election to remain in power.
Saleh’s main rival, Faisal bin Shamlan, won the vote, al- Ahmar told reporters in the capital, Sana’a, today. Al-Ahmar, who leads a military division that defected, cited the president as dismissing the final tally by saying “the computer had made a mistake,” and that Saleh asked for the military to be mobilized should bin Shamlan try to enter the presidential compound.
The president dismissed the allegations, Tarik al-Shami, spokesman for the ruling General People’s Congress, said in a phone interview, adding that al-Ahmar should see a psychiatrist “because all that he has said recently is not logical.” Al- Shami said all political parties were represented on the elections panel and had fielded observers. “In addition, the international observers praised the competitiveness and fairness of the election,” he said.
Demonstrations began in the Arab world’s poorest country at the end of January, inspired by revolts that ousted the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. They deepened as military and tribal leaders joined the opposition. Efforts by the Gulf Cooperation Council to broker a power-transfer agreement have failed.
The 2006 balloting was “an open and genuine political contest,” Emma Nicholson, a member of the U.K. House of Lords and head of the European Union’s monitoring mission to Yemen, said after the vote. The results showed Saleh with 77 percent of vote and bin Shamlan 22 percent.
Al-Ahmar also accused the forces loyal to Saleh of kidnapping 400 people, including soldiers, officers and protest activists.
Reporters had gone to al-Ahmar’s compound to demand the release of a colleague who was arrested by forces loyal to the opposition. Al-Ahmar said the reporter had been arrested for being an interpreter to Saleh and would be freed today.
--With assistance from Caroline Alexander in London. Editors: Heather Langan, Ben Holland
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