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Yemen President Fires PM Ahead of Peace Talks with Rebels

  • Lou Lorscheider

FILE - Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, August 29, 2015.

FILE - Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, August 29, 2015.

Arab news outlets say Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi dismissed his prime minister and vice president, Khaled Bahah, in a major government shakeup ahead of United Nations-brokered peace talks with Iran-backed Houthi militants later this month.

Yemen state television, reporting Sunday, said Hadi had replaced Bahah with politically powerful army General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar as the embattled government's new vice president. He also appointed lawmaker Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr as prime minister.

The president had offered no public explanations for the moves by early Monday. But Yemeni and other international media have reported simmering differences between Hadi and Bahah over tactics and strategies for ending the country's protracted civil war.

Those differences exploded into public view in December when Bahah, appointed prime minister by Hadi in April 2015, rejected the president's move to reshuffle the government without first consulting with him.

Unlike the more hardline Hadi, analysts have described Bahah as favoring a political settlement to the conflict, which erupted in September 2014 when Shi'ite Houthi rebels seized control of the capital, Sana'a, driving a former president into exile.

A Saudi-led military coalition entered the conflict one year ago, bombing Houthi targets and obliterating entire Yemen communities, but the Riyadh government announced earlier this month that it was ending "major combat operations" in the country.

More than 6,000 people -- mostly civilians -- have died in the fighting.

U.N.-backed peace talks are set to open April 18 in Kuwait.