RIYADH (Reuters) - Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi appointed a new vice-president and prime minister on Sunday, pro-Hadi state media reported, sacking prime minister Khaled Bahah in a major shake-up ahead of peace talks later this month.
Yemen has been in a civil war for more than a year between Hadi’s supporters and the Iran-allied Houthi group that has sucked in a Saudi-led alliance and caused a major humanitarian crisis in one of the poorest countries in the Middle East.
Yemen’s state television reported that Hadi had appointed Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, a politically powerful army general who split violently with former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011, as the new vice-president.
The president also appointed Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, a former official in Saleh’s General People’s Congress party before joining Hadi’s camp, to become new prime minister.
Bahah, who held both posts before he was sacked, had been named as an advisor to Hadi.
A Yemeni government official said the shake-up could undermine U.N.-sponsored peace talks, scheduled to start in Kuwait on April 18.
“Bahah was in favor of a political settlement and the appointment of Ali Mohsen is a victory for the hardline wing,” the official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
Saudi Arabia has signaled it was in favor of 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.
(This story changes word order in paragraph 2)
Reporting by Ahmed Tolbah and Mohammed Ghobari, writing by Katie Paul, editing by Sami Aboudi and David Evans