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Yemenis rubber-stamp VP as president, sealing Saleh's exit

Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

A man casts his vote during the presidential elections at a polling station in Aden, Yemen, on Feb. 21, 2012.

Hani Mohammed / AP

Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi gestures as he enters a polling center to cast his vote in Sanaa on Feb. 21, 2012. Yemenis are voting to rubber-stamp Hadi as the new head of state.

SANAA, Yemen — Yemenis voted Tuesday to instate their U.S.-backed vice president as the new head of state tasked with steering the country out of a crisis created by an anti-government uprising that has raged for a year.

The vote can hardly be called an election as Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is the only candidate. It is, however, a turning point for the impoverished Arab state, ending President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year authoritarian rule.

At stake is an economy left in a shambles, where 42 percent of the population of 24 million lives on less than $2 per day and rampant inflation is driving up food and fuel prices.

Long lines formed early in the morning outside polling stations in the capital Sanaa amid tight security, after an explosion ripped through a voting centre in the southern port city of Aden on the eve of the vote.

Southerners, who accuse the north of usurping their resources and discriminating against them, said they would boycott the election because it confers legitimacy on a political process that excluded them. Read more.

— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters

Men queue outside a polling station in the Al Hasaba neighborhood of Sanaa on Feb. 21, 2012.

Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

A man walks past tires set on fire by followers of a southern separatist group, calling for a boycott of the presidential elections, to block a road in the southern port city of Aden on Feb. 21, 2012.

Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters

A defected soldier, supporting anti-regime protesters, stands guard as women queue at a polling station in the Al Hasaba neighborhood in Sanaa on Feb. 21, 2012.