ADEN -- A wave of optimism over the renewed prospect of peace in Yemen and a solution to the country's economic crisis has washed over the Yemeni street now that the newly formed leadership council has officially begun its work.
The leadership council, officially known as the Presidential Command Council, was sworn in during an April 19 session of parliament.
Former Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi had on April 7 irreversibly transferred his powers to the eight-member council, headed by Rashad al-Alimi.
In a speech delivered after the council members were sworn in, al-Alimi said that though the council extends its hand in peace to the Houthis, it is committed to fulfilling its responsibility with regard to restoring the state and its institutions.
He vowed to work to improve Yemen's economy, ensure the regular payment of salaries to all state employees, improve and ensure regular payment of the salaries of army and security personnel as well as military and civilian retirees.
He pledged to stabilise the currency and improve the economic and living situation in Yemen, and reiterated the council and government's commitment to the United Nations-brokered truce.
He said the government had submitted the names of its representatives who will be involved in the negotiations for the opening of the roads to Taez -- which are controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis -- to the office of the UN envoy.
"We are facing a new era in Yemen's history," Deputy Justice Minister Faisal al-Majeedi told Al-Mashareq.
The new leadership council is "a council of peace, but a just and shared peace that ushers in the end of the rebellion by the Iran-affiliated Houthis and the coup, and the restoration of state institutions", he said.
'Optimistic about the new phase'
"What matters to citizens is an end to the war, a reduction of prices and the payment of salaries," Taez University student Nassim al-Qubati said.
"I am optimistic about the new phase and that the new leadership will end the war and extend a hand of peace to the Houthis," she said.
"And if the latter refuses, as it usually does, then restoring the state by force will have a better chance of succeeding, because the council brought together all the [pro-government] military leaders and commanders," she added.
"The unification and integration of military and security units under the leadership of the defence and interior ministries are the cornerstone towards restoring peace and victory over the Iran-backed Houthis," said political analyst Adel al-Shujaa.
Aden resident Zikra Mohammed, who works in the public sector, said she feels the advent of "a great breakthrough for Yemen after a war that has entered its eighth year".
"The leadership council's return to Aden, along with the government and parliament, augurs well for improvement in living conditions, payment of salaries and improvement in services," she said.
Mohammed noted that state leaders and the legislative authority have rallied around the new leadership council, which gives it the ability "to bring peace and end the war that has devoured everything".
"The Houthis must put the country's interest first and stop Iran's meddling in Yemen for our sake, the people," she added.
Al-Alimi's speech "bodes well for a new phase", Taez University sociology professor Olfat al-Dubai said.
She noted "the emphasis it put on the implications of empowering women and the youth, ensuring their involvement in state institutions and decision-making centres and meeting the challenges of the transitional period".
Positive economic omens
The announcement of the new council and its return to Aden had a positive impact on improving the value of the Yemeni riyal against hard currencies, economist Abdul Aziz Thabet said.
After the announcement was made, the exchange rate for the US dollar fell from 600 YER to less than 550 YER/dollar in Sanaa, and by the same percentage in Aden.
"This gave a positive indication to the people," he said. "This in addition to the return of the government and parliament and the pledge to pay salaries."
The government's commitment to its financial statement and the subsequent recommendations by parliament when this gets approved will "reduce the manifestations of corruption and bring expenditures under control", Thabet said.
"This will, in one way or another, positively impact the lives of citizens and improve the services provided to them," he said.
The government had said that the total general budget for the current fiscal year amounts to 3.243 trillion YER. It estimated the deficit in the draft budget at 401 billion YER.