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Yemen’s GPC names new head to replace slain Saleh

File photo shows Sadeq Amin Abu Rass (R), a former vice president and the current head of General People's Congress party, clapping as he attends a ceremony in Sanaa, Yemen on August 6, 2016. (AFP photo)

Yemen’s General People’s Congress (GPC) has picked a new leader to replace long-time chief Ali Abdullah Saleh who was killed last month.

In an announcement on Sunday, the GPC named Sadeq Amin Abou Rass as Saleh’s replacement.

The former agriculture minister is now expected to lead a fragile partnership between tribes who have been traditionally loyal to Saleh but are now split on how to deal with the ruling Houthi Ansarullah movement, a group that has led a two-year resistance campaign against a brutal war by Yemen's northern neighbor, Saudi Arabia.

The GPC announcement said the party would keep resisting the Saudi “aggression”, but it did not mention the Ansarullah. Also missing from the statement was the name of Ahmed Ali Saleh, the exiled son of the former president who had vowed to lead a campaign against the Houthis after his father was killed in a roadside attack by fighters loyal to the Ansarullah.

“What happened (Saleh’s killing) will not prompt us to make peace with the aggressors against the sovereignty, the dignity and the freedom of our great Yemeni people,” said the statement, adding that the GPC remained open to national reconciliation and talks with all Yemeni factions.

This file photo taken on January 24, 2010 shows the reflection of Yemenis in a mirror next to a picture of Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana'a. (AFP photo)

The party also called for the release of its prisoners, including Saleh’s family members and staffers of the pro-Saleh TV channel Yemen al-Yawm.

Saudi Arabia launched its devastating campaign against the impoverished Yemen in March 2015 in an alleged bill to restore power to a resigned president. Saleh initially took sides with the Ansarullah and opposed the Saudi air campaign which has since killed more than 13,600 people. However, he switched sides apparently under pressure from Riyadh in what the Ansarullah’s described as a clear form of treason.

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