Monday, 16 June 2014

Reshuffle in Yemen amid protests

Reshuffle in Yemen amid protests

An attack on Yemen’s electricity infrastructure in Marib led to a loss of power for much of the country on 10 June, leading the next day to demonstrations and a protest in front of President Abd Rubuh Hadi’s residence. This precipitated a long-expected cabinet reshuffle that came across as something of a panic.

Yemen has looked particularly fragile in the past month, with a major offensive in Abyan/Shabwa against AQAP, fighting in Amran between al-Huthi, supporters of Islah and an army brigade and continuing problems in the south. In Sana’a, fuel shortages have led to long queues for diesel and elsewhere exacerbated already severe humanitarian problems and led to protests in several Yemeni towns.

Criticism of the government had reached new heights before the electricity failure. Much of it was directed at Prime Minister Muhammad Basindwa, who nevertheless survived the reshuffle – perhaps because very few other politicians might be willing to take on the job at present.

The new ministers are:

  • Ahmad Ubaid Bin Daghr, deputy prime minister, minister of telecommunications and information technology;
  • Abdullah Mohsen al-Akwa, deputy prime minister, minister of electricity;
  • Nasser Taha Mustafa, minister of information;
  • Ahmed Abdul Kader Shaya, minister of oil and minerals;
  • Mohammed Mansour Zemam, minister of finance; and
  • Jamal Abdullah al-Salal, minister of foreign affairs.

They are thought to be close to Hadi, while representing the General People’s Congress/Joint Meeting Parties coalition in the cabinet. The new oil minister replaces Khaled Mahfouz Bahah, who was appointed to the job only three months ago, having been brought back from Canada to take up a post he had previously occupied three years earlier. Abu Bakr al-Qirby, the long-serving foreign minister, may have been surprised at his sudden exit, sweetened by an appointment to the Majlis al-Shoura (upper house of parliament). His replacement has done well as ambassador to the UN. The outgoing minister of finance has been appointed governor of Hodeida.

The president has also appointed Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak as a director of his office. He made his reputation as secretary general of the National Dialogue Conference. Mansour Ali Ahmed al-Betani was made secretary-general of the presidency.

The reshuffle will at best buy Hadi a little time. The armed forces will go after the saboteurs but problems with tribes in Marib are endemic and symptomatic of wider political, economic and social problems – and thus likely to recur.

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

© 2014 Menas Associates

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