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Middle East

Yemen shakes up cabinet amid power protests

President orders cabinet changes as thousands protest about total shutdown of national grid following sabotage attacks.

Last updated: 11 Jun 2014 17:38
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The protests came after Yemen suffered a grid failure on Tuesday [AP]

Yemen's president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has replaced five ministers in his cabinet amid angry street protests over power cuts and fuel shortages.

The changes, announced on Wednesday, came as thousands took to the streets to protest after suspected saboteurs shut down the entire national grid by attacking power lines the day before.

 The cabinet shakeup

Abdullah Mohsen al-Akwa named deputy prime minister and minister of electricity.

Naser Taha Mustafa replaces Ali al-Amrani as information minister.

Abdelqader al-Shaea replaces Khaled Belhaj as the minister for oil and minerals.

Jamal Abdullah al-Sallal, a UN ambassador, replaces Abu Bakr al-Kurbi as foreign minister.

Mohammed Mansur replaces Sakhr al-Wajih as minister of finance.

Protesters marched towards Sittin Street, where the president lives, demanding the government's removal. Police fired warning shots as protesters, some armed, set tyres ablaze.

The cabinet changes affect the finance, electricity, oil, foreign and information ministries

Yemen army jets were also on Wednesday sent to attack a gathering of tribesmen near Marib, who were suspected of being behind the sabotage.

A tribal source told the AFP news agency that the gathering was nothing to do with the sabotage, and was eld instead to protest against Marib's governor, whom they accuse of seizing government money that should be given to them.

Attacks on power lines are common and often launched by tribesmen as a lever to press for the release of jailed relatives or to support other demands.

In other developments, authorities shut down a newspaper and television channel owned by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, both named Yemen Today, without giving reasons, a member of Saleh's party said.

Both media are often singled out for coverage seen as biased against the government formed after Saleh resigned.

"Yemen Today television channel and newspaper were shut down today after the government approved a decision by president Abd-Rabbu Hadi," Sultan al-Barakani, the head of the General People's Congress parliamentary bloc, told the AFP news agency.

"Forces belonging to the presidential guard shuttered the headquarters of the television and newspaper and seized their equipment," he said.

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