x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Yemen cabinet to form in days

Yemen's prime minister-designate promises to announce his government, saying GCC countries have been asked to help the country with oil and electricity.

emeni protesters march in Sanaa yesterday to demand the trial of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
emeni protesters march in Sanaa yesterday to demand the trial of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

SANAA// Yemen's prime minister-designate promised yesterday to announce his government within days, saying Gulf countries have been asked to help the country with oil and electricity as it tries to pull back from the brink of civil war.

Mohammed Basindwah, a former foreign minister, has been tasked under a peace plan brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with forming the interim cabinet after President Ali Abdullah Saleh handed power to his deputy following months of protests seeking his overthrow. "Our priorities will be focusing on making fuel and cooking gas available as well as the power supply. With the help of the Gulf states, we will set up a fund for development projects," Mr Basindwah told reporters yesterday during a meeting for the National Council of the Peaceful Revolution Forces.

Mr Basindwah said they had asked the Gulf states to help set up a fund that will be used to channel money for development projects.

"To avoid bad experience of corruption, we do not want any money to go to the public treasury. They should be in charge of bidding and overseeing the implementation of the development projects needed," Mr Basindwah said.

He said there had been a positive response from the Gulf states, mainly the UAE and Saudi Arabia. It was not clear on what terms the two Gulf states were offering to help with the oil and power.

Earlier this year, Riyadh granted three million barrels of crude oil to Yemen, whose modest exports - a source of revenue for imports of staple foodstuffs - have often been halted by attacks on pipelines during the political standoff.

Mr Basindwah said the challenges facing the country were "enormous" but he expected to announce a new cabinet within days.

After pulling out of the GCC deal on power transition three times in recent months, Mr Saleh signed the accord a week ago in Riyadh giving power to his deputy Abdurabu Manur Hadi. Under the plan, a presidential vote will be organised within 90 days and a national government led by the opposition should be formed within 14 days.

On Saturday, Mr Hadi set February 21 as the date for the presidential election and, on Sunday, he named Mr Basindwah as the prime minister of the unity government.

Despite the agreement, protests continue on a daily basis. Thousands of women and men marched through Sanaa, demanding the prosecution of Mr Saleh and his aides. The GCC agreement effectively protects Mr Saleh and his family from prosecution.

The Yemeni Nobel peace laureate, Tawakkul Karman, on Monday met with the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to demand action against Mr Saleh. She said she had submitted photographs of victims and witness accounts of the Yemeni government crackdown on protests to the ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in the 10-month uprising against Mr Saleh's 33-year rule.

Mr Basindwah said the peace deal did not mean an "end to the youth-led revolution".

However, he said his government had to restore peace to areas where clashes between government forces and anti-Saleh tribesmen were still going on.


* With additional reporting by Reuters