Yemen’s VP Calls for United Cabinet

Posted December 10th, 2011 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Yemen's vice president has urged members of the new unity government to forget their political differences and focus on major issues.

Abd al-Rabuh Mansur Hadi made the plea on Saturday, shortly after the new government was officially sworn in during a ceremony in the capital, Sana'a.

According to the state-run SABA news agency, he also said the government's first task was to create an “atmosphere” where reconciliation could take place.

The country's new 35-member Cabinet is headed by veteran politician Mohammed Basindwa. The ministerial posts are equally divided between President Saleh's party and the opposition. Mr. Basindwa is from the opposition.

Saturday's swearing-in brings Yemen one step closer to a government without President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has faced months of opposition protests.

The government is also trying to rid Yemen of al-Qaida linked militants who are attempting to gain a stronghold in the country's south. Officials said Saturday that two soldiers and 11 suspected militants were killed during clashes in the southern Abyan province.

The Gulf-sponsored reconciliation plan allows Mr. Saleh to remain president in an honorary capacity until presidential elections are held in February.

Saleh loyalists will run the ministries of defense, foreign affairs and oil, while the opposition will head the ministries of interior, finance and information.