By Zakaria al-Kamali
Ahmed Obaid bin Dagr, who defected last year from former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and declared his support for current President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, has been appointed prime minister of Yemen, replacing Khaled Bahah.
On Sunday evening, Yemen’s official Saba news agency reported that bin Dagr had been appointed to the premiership by presidential decree, replacing Bahah, who was made an adviser to President Hadi.
The decree attributed the move to the "Yemeni government’s recent poor performance in the economic, public service and security fields" and its "failure to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people".
Bin Dagr was appointed deputy PM in August of last year, four months after his break with Saleh, who is a main ally of the Shia Houthi militant group.
Like his predecessor Bahah, bin Dagr hails from Yemen’s southern Hadhramaut region, where he was born in 1952.
In 1983, he received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Aden. In 2000, he received a Master’s Degree in history from Cairo’s Institute of Arab Research and Studies, earning a PhD from the same institution four years later.
After the unification of Yemen in 1990, bin Dagr became a member of parliament for Yemen’s Socialist Party, of which he was a prominent leader.
He left Yemen in 1994 following the outbreak of the country’s civil war.
In 2006, bin Dagr returned to Yemen after years of self-imposed exile, but left the Socialist Party to join Saleh’s General People's Congress Party, for which he served as assistant secretary-general for culture and information.
Afterwards, he was appointed minister of communications and information technology, before becoming deputy PM and minister of communication under then-PM Bahah.
Notably, bin Dagr’s appointment to the premiership on Sunday comes shortly before UN-backed talks between the Yemeni government and the Houthis, which are scheduled to take place in Kuwait on April 18.
The Houthi leadership and Saleh’s General People's Congress Party have yet to comment officially on bin Dagr’s appointment to the premiership.
*Ali Abo Rezig contributed to this report