Yemen votes, Damascus revolts – live updates

• Voting gets under way in Yemen’s one-man election
• Protests spread in the Syrian capital
• Russia to boycott international conference on Syria

8.54am: Voting seems to have got off to a brisk start in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. However, some voters are boycotting because there is only one candidate. There are also some grumbles about the $48m cost of the election, given that the result is a foregone conclusion.

Here are a few of today’s tweets:

i think we can start calling Hadi, Mr. President. we dont really have to wait until the votes are counted. #yemen

— Atiaf Alwazir (@WomanfromYemen) February 21, 2012

#Yemen Elections: there’s no minimum turnout for the vote to be valid. If only one person turns out to vote for him #Hadi will still win!

— Rose Marie(@rosemarie1570) February 21, 2012

Polling station in Sanaa busy, near-jovial, women here too, lots of talk of building a new #Yemen.

— tom finn (@tomfinn2) February 21, 2012

48million US dollars for an election between a man and his shadow would feed a lot of starving people in #Yemen #Carryonstarving @NoonArabia

— Anthony Carpenter (@Carpe177) February 21, 2012

8.37am: (all times GMT) Welcome to Middle East Live. Here is a roundup of the situation this morning:


Yemenis have begun voting for their new president this morning. The result is a foregone conclusion, since Vice-President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is the only candidate.


Syrian forces opened fire with live ammunition on demonstrators in Damascus overnight as unrest continued to spread in the capital. At least least four people were wounded, according to activists.

Russia says it will not attend this week’s international conference in Tunis aimed at seeking political change in Syria. In a statement quoted by AFP, the foreign ministry said the meeting had been called “for the purpose of supporting one side against another in an internal conflict”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it is negotiating with Syrian authorities and opposition fighters for a temporary ceasefire to bring life-saving aid to civilians hardest hit by the conflict. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

from Brian Whitaker, Haroon Siddique


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