SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s embattled president, in exile in Saudi Arabia, announced a Cabinet reshuffle on Friday in a major step toward closing a dangerous rift between his internationally recognized government and southern separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates.
President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's decree said the incumbent prime minister, Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, would keep his job while 24 ministerial posts would have almost equal representation of both northerners and southerners, according to the country’s state-run SABA news agency.
Naming a new government was part of a power-sharing deal between the Saudi-backed Hadi and the Emirati-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council, an umbrella group of militias seeking to restore an independent southern Yemen, which existed from 1967 until unification in 1990.
The power-sharing deal, inked in the Saudi capital of Riyadh last year, was meant to end months of infighting between what are nominal allies in Yemen’s civil war that pits a Saudi -backed coalition, of which the UAE is a part, against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
The deal also called for the appointment of a new governor and security director for the port city of Aden, the seat of Hadi’s government since the Houthis took over the capital, Sanaa, six years ago. The following year, the Saudi-led coalition, determined to restore Hadi’s government to power, launched a military intervention.
The power-sharing deal also included the withdrawal of rival forces from Aden and the flashpoint southern province of Abyan. The Saudi-led coalition said that was completed earlier this week.
The standoff between Hadi’s government and the separatists has frequently erupted into violent turmoil, threatening to shatter the coalition fighting the Houthis.
The fighting in Yemen has spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical shortages. It has killed over 112,000 people, including fighters and civilians.