Yemeni Vice President Assures Elections Will Go On As Planned

Yemeni officials on Tuesday downplayed rumors that next month's presidential elections in Yemen would be delayed.

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Yemeni officials on Tuesday downplayed rumors that next month's presidential elections in Yemen would be delayed.

Any delay in the elections are unacceptable by all standards, senior officials in Vice President Abdurabu Hadi's office said.

The statement comes after Yemen's foreign minister hinted that presidential elections could be delayed due to the rising tension in the country.

"I am among those who hope that (the presidential election) will take place in the planned manner," Abubakr al-Qirbi said in an interview on al-Arabiya TV on Tuesday. "But unfortunately, there are a couple of events relating to security, and if they are not solved ... it will be difficult to run the elections on February 21."

Hadi's office called Qirbi's comments unnecessary.

Yahya al-Arasi, media officer for the vice president, told CNN that elections are essential for Yemen and the vice president has no plans to delay elections under any circumstance.

"It's unrealistic and unacceptable to delay the presidential elections," al-Arasi said.

He added, "If elections are delayed, Yemen will again start from step one, and the unexpected would take place."

CNN contacted Qirbi's office and they assured that his comments come independently and not in favor of any certain political faction in the country.

Hadi is expected to win the country's February 21 elections.

Qirbi's announcement also raised fears within opposition lines that President Ali Abdullah Saleh is yet again using more tactics to stay in power.

Under the terms of a Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered deal, Saleh has agreed to step down as president on February 21 in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Mohammed Abu Lahoum, president of the opposition Justice and Building party said any call for delaying the elections is unwise. He said that delaying the presidential elections would only deepen the Yemeni crisis.

"Delaying the presidential elections is completely against the GCC power transfer and will delay any sort of stability to Yemen," said Abu Lahoum.

Analysts are worried that Saleh is seeking to delay the elections to buy him more time in power.

"The GCC power transfer signing was delayed six times in 2011, and Saleh benefited the most from the delays. For Saleh, it's never really over," said Ali Abdul Jabbar, director of the Sana'a based Dar Ashraf Reaserch Center.

Abdul Jabbar said that Saleh was hoping to control Yemen indirectly after stepping down from power, but the tension between him and Hadi made that impossible.

"Saleh will do all that in his power to derail the elections for as long as he can. He has everything to lose," he said.

The U.N.-backed power transition plan was signed in November and designed after more than a year of political and economic unrest.

The election planned for net month will put an end to Saleh's 33 years in power.