Continued from page 1

Separatists in the south are campaigning against the vote but it was not clear who was behind the violence.

A security official said that British ex-parliamentarian Baroness Nicholson was visiting a station in Yemen when it came under a hail of bullets. He said one soldier was slightly injured, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. The baroness was whisked out of the area to safety. She could not be reached immediately for comment.

But in the capital, voting was brisk.

Sanaa resident Bushra al-Baadany came to the polling station with her young son.

“I am voting for Hadi as a new leader instead of Saleh because I want change,” she said. “If Hadi is like Saleh, we are ready to have another revolution.”

There are more than 10 million registered voters in this county of 24 million. A large turnout would bolster Mr. Hadi’s mandate and position.

State television played songs praising the president-to-be throughout the day. Ballads with titles such as “Mansour, Son of Yemen” replaced their previously ubiquitous pro-Saleh anthems.

Mr. Hadi is expected to see through the implementation of the power transfer deal. This includes the daunting task of overhauling of powerful security forces, in which a number of key units are controlled by Mr. Saleh’s family members, within six months.

At the same time, he must oversee the selection of a committee to write the country’s new constitution and initiate an national dialogue between rival parties.

Yemenis first took to the streets to call for Mr. Saleh’s ouster in January 2011, inspired by the uprisings that toppled presidents in Tunisia and Egypt.

Since then, protesters have rallied in huge numbers despite crackdowns by Mr. Saleh’s security forces that have killed more than 200 protesters. Hundreds more have died in armed clashes between armed groups and security forces.

Mr. Saleh will not be the only figure from the past to try to retain his power throughout this process. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a longtime Saleh ally who defected to the protesters early last year, said Monday that he expects to continue to “serve.” This is likely to upset both Mr. Saleh’s supporters and younger protesters who want to see all the former regime holdovers out of the picture.

“In the current position or another position, I will continue to serve the nation,” Gen. al-Ahmar told Al-Jazeera TV. “Whatever role the state chooses for me, I will serve.”


El Deeb contributed from Cairo.