- President Ali Abdullah Saleh is set to step down after February 21 elections
- Protests against Saleh have been ongoing since last year
- Acting leader Abdurabu Mansur Hadi promises to solve Yemen's crises
Yemeni Vice President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi kicked off his presidential campaign Tuesday, announcing he will run in the February 21 election.
In a large gathering with hundreds of senior government officials representing all political factions, Hadi said he is seeking a new direction for Yemen. The nation has been wracked by unrest, including protests against current President Ali Abdullah Saleh, since early last year, when pro-democratic uprisings spread across the Arab world.
Hadi promised Tuesday a national dialogue involving all political forces would happen immediately after he takes power, saying that will serve as an oasis for effective dialogue based on openness, equity and mutual respect.
The Yemeni people are not able to exercise more patience, he said, as they have already borne more than they can stand in the crisis.
Demonstrators have continued their protests against Saleh, despite a power transfer deal that is supposed to lead to his departure.
Under the plan forged by the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saleh -- who's been in office for 33 years -- will step down after the February 21 elections and will receive immunity from prosecution.
Executive powers have already been transferred to Hadi. The power transfer deal, signed in November, states that Saleh's deputy would succeed him in power for a term of two years.
However, Hadi insisted on running for election, saying his presidency is not official unless he is chosen by the people.
The vice president stressed there will be no red lines when it comes to solving Yemen's crises. Other priorities include stabilizing the country, and striving for a civil nation where rights and freedoms are recognized, he said.
Hadi praised the demonstrators, most of whom are youths, saying they all along had hoped to see a new future for the country.
In a move that surprised experts, Hadi did not mention Saleh in his speech.
"Hadi made it clear that the Saleh regime is over and he is seeking to be looked at as a president for a nation and not for a political party," said Abdul Salam Mohammed, director of the Sanaa-based Abaad Strategic Center.
Saleh is currently seeking medical treatment in the United States for wounds he suffered in an assassination attempt in the presidential palace in June 2011.
A number of leading youth movements welcomed the elections and called them a step in the right direction for Yemen.
But not all youths consider their revolution over yet. Activists were cautious in openly accepting Hadi as the country's next ruler.
"Our main goal during our revolution is to oust Ali Saleh from power. This will be accomplished in two weeks, but his family is still in control of the country's military," said Sanaa youth activist Mohammed Hashem.
He added, "Saleh's corrupt inner circle are still allowed to be involved in politics, so we are long from calling it over."