Yemen swears in new government amid crisis
Yemen’s president swore in a new government Sunday despite objections from the ruling party, led by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Shiite rebels allied to him who control the capital.
At least three ministers boycotted the government after Saleh and the General People’s Congress called it unrepresentative Saturday. The comments, along with a similar objection from the powerful Shiite rebels, threaten to perpetuate the standoff that has gripped the impoverished country in the past weeks.
Thirty ministers, including Prime Minister Khaled Bahah, were sworn in by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in the presidential palace. Bahah said three other ministers were outside Yemen and unable to return in time.
After weeks of violence and political wrangling, a U.N.-brokered deal saw Bahah nominated as prime minister and tasked with forming a government. All Yemeni parties and political groups eventually agreed on an independent technocrat Cabinet last Saturday in what was seen as an important step in efforts to regain stability after Houthi rebels captured Sanaa in September demanding Hadi appoint a new government.
The Houthis, allegedly with the tacit support of Saleh, the country’s former president, complained the previous one was too close to their rival conservative Sunni Islamist party.
But the tension was renewed after the U.N. Security Council approved sanctions against the former leader and two rebel commanders on Friday. Saleh, seen as a behind-the-scenes power broker, and the Shiite Houthi rebels decried the sanctions and criticized the government.
Saleh blamed Hadi for the sanctions against him, and the ruling party dismissed him from its leadership.
Bahah said his government is final and that he doesn’t intend to back down. He said the decision to impose sanctions was an international one and not coming from inside the Yemeni government. The government will respect the UN resolution imposing sanctions, he said, and “will work with the Security Council in order to implement it.”
The U.N. council ordered a freeze of all assets and a global travel ban on Saleh, the rebel group’s military commander, Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi, and the Houthi’s second-in-command, Abdullah Yahya al Hakim.