Yemen’s vice president named opposition leader Mohammed Basindwa as the country’s new interim prime minister, the state news agency Saba reported, under a deal aimed at ending months of protests which have rocked the country.
If the agreement goes according to plan, Saleh will become the fourth Arab ruler brought down by mass demonstrations that have reshaped the political landscape of the Middle East.
Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi named Basindwa in a decree carried by the agency. This followed a decision on Friday by opposition parties to nominate Basindwa, the head of an alliance that led months of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, to form a new government, Reuters reports.
“A presidential decree issued today … mandated Mohammed Salem Basindwa to form a government of national unity,” Saba said.
Basindwa, a foreign minister from 1993 to 1994, is to form the new government under the deal signed in Riyadh last Wednesday when Saleh transferred his powers to his deputy to resolve the crisis resulting from months of pro-democracy demonstrations.
Saleh returned home on Saturday after signing the deal with the opposition after 33 years in office and 10 months of protests.
On Saturday, Hadi called presidential elections for February 21.
Under the Gulf-sponsored agreement, Saleh will receive immunity from prosecution and keep his title until a successor is elected. Hadi was charged with calling the election within three months and forming a new government with the opposition.
Hundreds of people have been killed during months of protests anti-Saleh protests. The political deadlock has reignited conflicts with separatists and militants, raising fears that al Qaeda’s Yemen-based regional wing could take a foothold on the borders of Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.
In continued unrest, at least 25 people have been killed and dozens wounded in northern Yemen in what Sunni Islamist Salafi fighters said was shelling by Shi’ite Muslim rebels on Saturday and Sunday.