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Yemen forms national unity government as part of deal to end country's political crisis
SANAA, Yemen (AP) ' Yemen's official news agency says a national unity government has been created to take over from ministers allied with embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
SABA says Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi issued a decree approving the formation of the new 35-member Cabinet headed by the veteran independent politician Mohammed Basindwa.
The Cabinet posts are equally divided between Saleh's Congress Party and the opposition. The creation of the national unity government was part of the power transfer deal signed by Saleh last month.
Members of the Congress Party will head the ministries of defense, foreign affairs and oil, while opposition politicians will lead the ministries of interior, finance and information.
The Cabinet also included two women, one from each side.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) ' Yemeni regime and opposition spokesmen accused each other's forces on Wednesday of shelling government and residential areas in the capital. The accusations come in advance of the expected declaration of a national unity government to take over from ministers allied with embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The two sides traded blame for a flare-up of fighting in Sanaa's Hassaba neighborhood, the scene of a tense standoff for months between forces loyal to Saleh and opposition fighters from the country's most powerful tribal federation, supported by the renegade First Armored Division.
Saleh agreed last month to step down after 33 years in power in exchange for immunity from prosecution. If the U.S.-backed deal brokered by Yemen's powerful Gulf Arab neighbors holds, Saleh would be the fourth dictator pushed from power this year by the Arab Spring uprisings.
But the agreement is likely to leave more of the current regime intact than the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and supporters and opponents continue to clash throughout the country.
An Interior Ministry spokesman said followers of tribal leader Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar fired on loyalist positions on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, with one shell striking the Cabinet building.
He spoke on condition of anonymity according to regulations.
Al-Ahmar's spokesman Abdel-Qawi al-Qaisi denied that the opposition targeted the Cabinet, and said several shells fired from the Interior Ministry exploded near the tribal leader's home in a nearby neighborhood.
Neither side gave figures for casualties, but an eyewitness said that one civilian was killed and four injured by government shells, and that security checkpoints were preventing ambulances from entering the street to evacuate the injured.
He spoke on condition of anonymity fearing government reprisal.
Newly-designated Prime Minister Mohammed Basindwa meanwhile accused Saleh's outgoing ministers of systematically looting government properties.
In a statement, Basindwa said the Interior Ministry was looted and important documents were destroyed. He called for the formation of a committee to investigate the issue.
A security official said about 40 trucks were loaded Tuesday night with weapons, munitions and other materials from the Interior Ministry's warehouse. He spoke on condition of anonymity fearing government retribution.
The veteran independent politician Basindwa is expected to announce a national unity government late Wednesday. He was chosen to form a government that will be equally divided between Saleh's Congress Party and the opposition. The deal is part of the power transfer agreement signed by Saleh in the Saudi capital Riyadh last month.