Thursday, 13 January 2011

Yemen: President Ali Abdullah Saleh suspends oil minister

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has suspended the country's oil minister and head of state oil company, Amir Aidarous, due to fuel shortages that have incited public disquiet over long queues at petrol stations. State run news agency Saba released a statement saying: "The suspension was triggered by fuel shortages that resulted in traffic congestion and large queues at filling stations."

Saleh went a step further and also suspended director general of the Yemen Petroleum Company, Omar Arhabi. In the absence of both officials their duties will be handed-over to their respective deputies. There has not been any indication of when and if the pair might be reinstated.

The fuel shortages have been an ongoing problem in Yemen for several weeks, and a cause of some concern in a country where nearly a third of the workforce is unemployed and more than 40 per cent live on less than $2 a day.

An unnamed government official said the oil ministry cut back fuel supply to petrol stations as an austerity measure, which was made worse by a delayed shipment from Hodeidah to Aden, and factories procuring fuel from petrol stations as oppose to suppliers to get cheaper rates.

Sources: Upstream, Reuters, Yemen News Agency, Ennahar

For more news and expert analysis about Yemen, please see Yemen Focus.

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