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Yemen national unity government named

From Hakim Almasmari and Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN
updated 1:02 PM EST, Wed December 7, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fighting erupts in the capital
  • The foreign minister keeps his post
  • Many protesters dislike the GCC deal
  • ICRC is upset about violence in Taiz

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Yemen formed a new unity government, the latest step in the implementing of the pact leading to the controversial president's departure from office, the state news agency said on Wednesday

Yemeni Vice President Abdu Rabo Mansour Hadi issued a decree forming the government and 35 ministers were named. The prime minister is Mohammed Basindwa and Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi remains the country's foreign minister.

Youth revolution activists, who've been leading the protests to remove President Ali Abdullah Saleh, greeted the move cynically.

It is part of a deal devised by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, comprising Gulf Arab states and signed on November 24.

Saleh stepped down after he agreed to the plan, which calls for transferring power in exchange for immunity from prosecution. It allows Saleh to retain the title of president for three months, until elections are held, but it required him to hand over executive powers to Hadi.

Yemen has been greatly affected by the ferment across the Arab world this year. The government had been engulfed by nationwide protests against his regime and fighting between security forces and his foes. An ally in the Western fight against terror groups, the government has been battling an al Qaeda affiliate.

As for the GCC deal, many protesters, like Abdul Rabb al-Murthada, dislike it and regard it as illegal.

"The government only represents itself and not the Yemeni people," he said. "It will fail and the youth will continue until a complete revolution is seen in Yemen."

Another protester, Salem al-Shuaib, urged citizens to reject any deal that gives Saleh immunity.

"No government or agreement can save the ruling family from the crimes they committed," said al-Shuaib

On Sunday, Hadi announced the formation of a military council of 14 members whose duties will be to stabilize the country and reform the military, a senior official in the vice president's office told CNN. They are evenly divided between the ruling party and the opposition, with each side receiving seven seats in the council.

Tareq Shami, the media officer of the ruling General People Congress party, told CNN that all sides are optimistic that this council will help in solving the security situation in the country.

"This is a good step and we support it. This will help in getting the gunmen out of the streets in Yemen and make the country safer," said Shami.

The power-transfer deal states that the military council should be formed within five days of the signing of that agreement while the new government was to be announced within 14 days.

But heavy clashes raged in northern Sanaa between government forces and opposition fighters loyal to the Ahmar clan in Hasaba district.

The clashes were the first in Sanaa since the vice president assumed presidential duties.

The Ahmar media office told CNN one civilian was killed and four others were injured as blasts reverberated across the city, stoking fear of persistent fighting.

Eyewitnesses told CNN that Republican Guards attacked the residential compounds of the Ahmars for more than six hours Wednesday morning and that resulted in clashes.

There has been "escalating violence" in the southwestern city of Taiz, the International Committee of the Red Cross said, and the group "is deeply alarmed."

"There are worrying reports of injured people being unable to reach medical facilities, and of facilities being attacked and damaged," said Eric Marclay, the ICRC's head of delegation in Yemen. "The violence has had a serious impact on basic services in recent weeks, with life-saving medical services especially hard hit. The escalating violence on the streets of Taiz has left dozens dead or wounded."

Yemen Red Crescent volunteers and others transporting casualties have been stopped from saving lives or have been injured , the ICRC said. ICRC surgeons and local doctors have been working to treat victims.

"Trying to save a life can cost you your own these days," Marclay said. "Anyone who is injured must be able to receive life-saving medical care without delay. Access to health care infrastructure must not be arbitrarily denied or limited. It is essential that medical staff, vehicles and facilities be protected and respected," he added. Hospitals must not be attacked.

Saleh became the fourth leader to leave office as a result of the Arab Spring unrest that has roiled much of the Middle East and North Africa this year. The others have been Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, and Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The new Minister of Human Rights Hooria Mashhour said there's a lot of work to be done to heal and stabilize the country.

"Our youth are still in the square," she said. "We told them this is the political track and we will achieve all our goals."

Hakim Almasmari is reporting from Sanaa, Yemen. Mohammed Jamjoom is reporting from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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