Yemeni leader relocates central bank in blow to rebels

Move is expected to cause further economic deterioration in the rebel-held north amid relentless Saudi-led air strikes.

Yemeni president Hadi makes a surprise visit to Marib province
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi delivers a speech to army commanders in July [Reuters]

Yemen’s exiled president has sacked the head of the central bank and ordered that it be relocated to the southern city of Aden, a move that would ramp up pressure on Houthi rebels who control the capital – but also bring increased hardship to millions of Yemenis living under their rule.

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi announced the move from Saudi Arabia late on Sunday. Hadi’s forces control Aden, while the Shia Houthis rule the capital, Sanaa, in the north. Most of Yemen’s 26 million people are concentrated in the rebel-held north.

 Who are the Houthis?

Yemen’s limited oil revenues flow to the central bank. Sunday’s move would therefore deprive the Houthis of a potential source of cash. The rebels’ opponents have long accused them of plundering the Treasury.

Yemen’s conflict pits Hadi’s government, which is allied with a Saudi-led military coalition, against the Houthis and security forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Saudi-led coalition has been waging an air campaign against the Houthis and their allies since March 2015, and the war has left some 10,000 people dead or wounded.

The relocation of the bank is expected to cause further economic deterioration in the north, where Saudi-led air strikes have caused widespread destruction. Government employees have not been paid in months, and the capital, like most Yemeni cities, suffers shortages of fuel, water, electricity and basic goods.

Hadi announced the move as part of a limited cabinet reshuffle. The current head of the central bank, Mohammed bin Hammam, will be replaced by Mansar al-Kaiti, an independent technocrat who has served as Hadi’s finance minister.

Hadi has been based in Saudi Arabia since the Houthis seized the capital in 2014.

 Yemen minister: Nobody in control of Sanaa

Source: AP