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A look at Yemen’s new presidential leadership council and its powers

Yemen’s president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has transferred his powers to a newly established presidential leadership council and relieved the vice president Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar of his duties on Thursday.

The former president vacated the post 10 years after he was elected to power in 2012. He was the only candidate to stand for elections.

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In a presidential decree, the former leader said that the move came as a “desire to involve effective leaders in managing the state in this transitional phase, and affirming our commitment to Yemen’s unity, sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity…”

The new council, headed by Major General Dr. Rashad al-Alimi, will temporarily be in charge of Yemen’s political, military, and security sectors during the transition period.

It will reportedly follow the provision of the “Arab Initiative” and wield the power offered to the vice president of Yemen, in addition to that of the presidents.

The council head is supported by seven other members: Sultan Ali al-Arada, Tariq Muhammad Salih, Abed al-Rahman Abu Zara’a, Abdullah al-Alimi Bawazeer, Othman Hussein Megali, Aidarous Qassem al-Zubaidi, and Faraj Salmin al-Bahsani.

These members will share the title of ‘Deputy Chairman of the Presidential Leadership’ and are further supported by a commission of 50 members who will work in an advisory and consultative role with the eight-member committee.

There are also separate legal and economic teams. The council will end its term upon election of a new president.

According to the presidential decree, the newly formed council has the authority to hold talks with Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis and find a solution to the incessant violence.

It also has the powers to adopt foreign policy; enhance national security, and issue changes to combat terrorism; establish diplomatic relations; enable a state of emergency; and appoint governors, security directors, and supreme court judges.

Currently, the warring parties in Yemen are under a two-month-long ceasefire agreement, which world powers including Saudi Arabia hope to maintain long term. The agreement followed extensive talks held by the GCC and Yemeni representatives in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with the newly-formed Yemeni presidential council, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.

The Kingdom on Thursday welcomed the Yemeni president’s decision and urged the body to start negotiations with the Iran-backed Houthi militia.

Saudi Arabia also said it would arrange $3 billion of support to the war-torn country’s economy, according to SPA. Riyadh would provide $2 billion, and another $1 billion would come from the United Emirates, which is part of the Arab Coalition.

The head of the council

Al-Alimi was formerly Yemen’s deputy prime minister under the governance of Ali Abdullah Saleh, and previously also served as the interior minister.

In a major incident, al-Alimi was reportedly injured in the explosion of the al-Nahdain Mosque in the Presidential House during Friday prayer in 2011.

The target was the late President Ali Abdullah Saleh and other Yemeni leaders in the country. Al-Alimi was transferred to Saudi Arabia for treatment, Al Arabiya reported, and returned to Sanaa on June 13, 2012 after a year of treatment in Saudi Arabia and Germany, before leaving Sanaa again following a coup by the Iran-backed Houthis.

In 2014, Al Arabiya reported that he was the Advisor to the President of Yemen. He was also reported to hold a PhD in sociology from Ain Shams University in Egypt.

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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