Ahead of UN-backed peace talks, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi appointed a new vice-president and prime minister on Sunday, pro-Hadi state media reported, sacking prime minister and vice-president Khaled Bahah in a major shake-up of senior officials.
Hadi instated on Sunday General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar as his new vice-president, while Obeid bin Daghr, an official in former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party, as the new PM.
Ahmar is a politically powerful army general who split violently with former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011 during the Arab Spring protests that eventually ousted Saleh, Yemen’s state television reported.
As for the new prime minister, he was a former official in Saleh’s General People’s Congress party before joining Hadi’s camp.
Bahah, who held both posts before he was sacked, had been named as an advisor to Hadi.
There was no immediate explanation behind Bahah’s dismissal, which comes just a week before a UN-brokered ceasefire planned between Yemen’s warring parties, which is expected to pave the way for peace talks in Kuwait on April 18.
But government sources have in the past spoken of differences between the president and Bahah, who had served as Yemen’s envoy to the UN before Hadi appointed him as foreign minister and then prime minister.
In December, Hadi reshuffled his cabinet, naming new foreign and interior ministers in a move that was understood to be aimed at smoothing his relations with Bahah.
Yemen has been in a civil war for more than a year between Hadi’s supporters and the Iran-allied Houthi group that has led to a major humanitarian crisis in one of the poorest countries in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has joined hands with President Hadi and has carried out air strikes to defeat Houthi forces. Concurrently, the country is threatened by ISIS militants, as they have also carried out attacks on the war-stricken country killing hundreds of innocent people.
Saudi Arabia has signaled its support to a peaceful settlement in Yemen, concluding two prisoner swap deals with the Houthi group since last month.
The two sides have confirmed a truce starting at midnight on April 10 ahead of the peace talks, planned to follow a week later.