Yemeni president dismisses prime minister over deteriorating economy

Government sources said that bin Daghr’s firing was the beginning of a wider government reshuffle.
Sunday 21/10/2018
Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi (R) arrives to attend a conference in Bonn, last November. (AFP)
Shuffling the cards. Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi (R) arrives to attend a conference in Bonn, last November. (AFP)

ADEN - With widespread protests over its falling currency and spiralling living costs due to the war, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi dismissed Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghr over what Hadi described as negligence in managing the country’s economy.

Bin Daghr, who severed as prime minister since April 2016, was replaced by Moeen Abdulmalik Saeed, who had been minister of public works and infrastructure.

Bin Daghr’s dismissal was the “result of negligence in the government’s performance in the recent period in the fields of economy and services, and faltering government performance in alleviating the suffering of our population, resolving its problems and providing for its needs,” a presidential decree released October 15 stated.

The document pointed to the government’s “inability to take real measures to stop the economic deterioration, specifically the collapse of the local currency, and its failure to take the necessary measures to confront Cyclone Luban in Mahra province.”

The Yemeni rial has been in a free fall for months with inflation exasperating difficult living conditions. Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, whose country is leading a coalition fighting on behalf of Hadi’s government, ordered that $200 million be deposited in the Central Bank of Yemen to stabilise the economy. That follows a $3 billion grant Riyadh previously sent to the bank.

Government sources said that bin Daghr’s firing was the beginning of a wider government reshuffle, with a series of major announcements, including the appointment of a vice-president, expected.

Saeed belonged to the “Arab spring” movement in Yemen, where he was one of the leaders of the protests in 2011 that saw President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down from power.

Observers said Saeed’s appointment was in line with a drive by Hadi led by Yemeni Ambassador to the United States Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak

The sources said wording of the presidential statement that bin Daghr would be investigated is an effort to stop him from having any political role in the future. This was thought to stem from bin Daghr’s efforts to revive the General People’s Congress party.

A high-ranking official in Yemen’s southern separatist movement said the group was indifferent about bin Daghr’s dismissal but vowed to continue its drive for independence.

The UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) has been calling for the Saudi-led coalition and the UN envoy for Yemen to solve the “southern cause,” including “restoring their state and independence,” Major-General Ahmed Said bin Brik, parliamentary speaker for the STC, said in an interview published on his Facebook page.

Bin Brik said re-establishing a “southern state” was paramount to the STC’s plans, a reference to the state of South Yemen, which existed from 1967-90.

The STC is a key partner in the coalition that has been fighting Houthi rebels alongside Hadi’s government since 2015. However, tensions between the separatists and Hadi’s government remain.

A French national held hostage in Yemen for more than 4 months has been released by the Houthis. Alain Goma, 54, was kidnapped in June after he docked his damaged ship in Hodeidah, French media reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Goma’s release on October 16, thanked Oman for its “decisive” role in securing the hostage’s release and Saudi authorities for their help.

A report in the official Saudi Press agency, Saudi Arabia helped “facilitate the obtainment of an authorisation” for a French military aeroplane, which transported Goma from Sana’a province to Oman.