Yemen Interim Cabinet Evenly Split Between Saleh Party, Foes

Opponents of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh will hold half the posts in a 34-member interim government aimed at helping to end an uprising against his rule.

The lineup, which includes three women, was announced yesterday in a decree from the country’s new interim leader and vice president, Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, the state-run SABA news agency said. The unity government will be led by Mohamed Salem Basindwah, a former foreign minister and opposition leader who was officially chosen on Nov. 27.

Under an agreement between the main opposition coalition, called the Joint Meeting Parties, and Saleh’s General People’s Congress, Hadi will run unopposed in an election on Feb. 21 to replace the president. Parliamentary elections will be scheduled at a later date.

Saleh agreed last month to relinquish power amid anti- government protests. Neighboring Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council states, with backing from the U.S., have sought to resolve the conflict to reduce instability in the region. The unrest has cost Yemen more than $8 billion, with attacks against the country’s oil-pipeline network disrupting exports and causing nationwide shortages.

The opposition will control 17 ministries in the interim government, including finance, interior, information, planning and international cooperation, according to SABA. The GPC will take the other 17 portfolios, including defense, oil, foreign affairs, telecommunications and the civil service.

Oil Minister

U.S.-educated Hisham Sharaf will be the interim oil minister, according to SABA. He holds a master’s degree in administration from Catholic University of America in Washington, and a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

Saadeddin Bin Taleb, who holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Ain Shams University in Egypt, will assume the industry and trade portfolio. Sakhr al-Wajeeh, a former lawmaker in Saleh’s party and an anti-corruption campaigner, was appointed minister of finance.

The interim government is the result of an agreement between Saleh’s party and the opposition that won’t be accepted by the protest movement, Walid al-Amari, a political activist in the capital of Sana’a, said yesterday by phone. The protests will go on, starting today, he said.

“This is really disappointing and does not show they are really serious about a new start, as they say,” al-Amari said. “We will continue our protests, for the GCC agreement didn’t respond to our demands.”

Armed ‘Thugs’

He said members of Saleh’s party in the Cabinet include people who have been accused of leading armed “thugs” to crack down on protesters. He also said some of those ministers were involved in instigating and provoking attacks against the peaceful protests.

Anti-Saleh protests began with rallies in January that swelled into mass demonstrations as tribesmen and military members joined the movement. Saleh’s crackdown has left almost 900 people dead, according to the Yemen Students’ Union. Saleh has put the death toll on the government side at 1,150.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mohammed Hatem in Sana’a at mhatem1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.

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