Monday, November 28, 2011

Can Yemen's New Prime Minister Really Bring Peace?

By Daniel Tovrov
November 28, 2011
Living up to his task of rebuilding the national government, Yemen's transitional president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi named opposition leader Mohammed Basindwa as the country's new prime minister on Sunday.
Hadi was vice-president under Ali Abdullah Saleh, who despite making an appearance on Monday and pardoning protestors (although not the ones who tried to kill him by bombing the presidential palace) agreed to step down last week.
In Yemen, the prime minister is the head of the government and is appointed by the president, who is the head of the state. The Council of Ministers, who make up most of the Cabinet, are appointed by the president on the prime minster's recommendation.
Yemen's last Prime Minister, Ali Muhammad Mujawar, was fired by Saleh in March along with other members of the cabinet, but asked to stay on until a new government was formed.
Basindwa has been given the role of forming a new, reconciliation government before presidential elections are held in February.
"A presidential decree issued today ... mandated Mohammed Salem Basindwa to form a government of national unity," news agency Saba reported.
Basindwa served as a foreign minister for Saleh between 1993 to 1994, but left Saleh's ruling General People's Congress a decade ago to become an independent politician.
Basindwa was endorsed by a number of opposition parties for the prime minister position. But will his appointment do enough to stop the unrest and demonstrations in the country?
If Saleh does actually concede power, he will be the fourth Arab leader to do so this year. His 33-year reign was ended after 10 months of protesting, during which hundreds of people died. Anti-government activists were thrilled with Saleh's apparent departure, but his appearance on Monday angered those who hoped Saleh was gone from Yemeni politics for good.
Saleh's departure does open up Yemen to new threats. The former leader had unified the many fractious groups in Yemen by using force and strategic allegiances -- however, now the many tribes and militant groups in the country are finding room to operate since Saleh is weakened.
On Sunday, Shi'ite rebels from the Zaidi sect allegedly attacked a Sunni Islamist school, among other places, in the province of Saada. At least 24 people were killed and 50 wounded, according to Voice of America News.
In the three months leading up to the new presidential elections, Hadi and Basindwa will also have to deal with southern separatists, Salafi tribes and a branch of al-Qaida.

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