File Photo: Nasser al-Khabji, left, representing the southern separatists, and Salem al-Khanbashi of the Yemeni government, signed an agreement in Riyadh meant to end the power struggle in southern Yemen (Photo: Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court)
The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen announced on Friday a new power-sharing cabinet that would include southern separatists in the internationally-recognised government, part of a deal to end a power struggle between the nominal allies.
The government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, based in the southern port of Aden, and the separatists are allies within the coalition, which has been at war against the Iran-aligned Houthis that have controlled the capital Sanaa since 2014.
However, the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared self rule in Aden earlier this year, and the two sides have been fighting in the south, complicating UN efforts to forge a permanent ceasefire in the overall conflict.
Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik was reappointed to head the new cabinet, which includes five ministers from Yemen's biggest political blocs, including the STC and Islah party, a statement from Hadi's office said.
However, Hadi has kept his closest allies in the key ministries of defence, interior, foreign affairs and finances.
The new government followed two weeks of separation of forces and redeployment of troops in the south that would see their return to battlefronts with the Houthis in the north and to outside Aden, the heavily disputed port city.
The clashes within the anti-Houthi camp were one factor holding up United Nations efforts to negotiate a nationwide ceasefire to pave the way for a resumption of political negotiations, last held in December 2018, to end the wider war.
Riyadh has struggled to prevent another front developing among its allies in Yemen’s multifaceted war, which has been locked in military stalemate for years.
The conflict, widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has killed more than 100,000 people and caused what the United Nations says is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.