Yemeni president purges military | News | DW | 07.04.2012
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Yemeni president purges military

Yemen's new president has carried out a shake-up of the country's military, getting rid of figures still loyal to the old regime. The move is intended to show his willingness to carry out promised reforms.

Yemen's newly appointed president has fired several senior army officers loyal to the old regime as well as relatives of his predecessor from the military, official media say.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi carried out the shake-up to show he is keeping promises he made to carry out reforms after coming to office.

Sabanews agency said those sacked included former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's half brother and nephew, who respectively headed the air force and the presidential guard.

A statement by Hadi on Friday said that four governors and over a dozen military generals were fired "to make way for new officials."

The restructuring comes amid growing concerns that Saleh was using the loyalists to further destabilize the country.

Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis took to the street on Friday calling for Hadi to purge the military of Saleh's relatives.

Hadi came to power in a one-candidate presidential election that was part of a US-backed power transfer deal signed by Saleh. Saleh has remained as head of the ruling party.

Airport siege

Sanaa airport

Troops loyal to Saleh say they will attack aircraft landing or taking off

Meanwhile the airport in the capital, Sanaa, was closed on Saturday after Saleh's half brother and air force chief General Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar had his forces surround it.

Ahmar has refused to quit despite his sacking, demanding that several senior defense ministry officials including the minister himself also leave.

Sources say the troops surrounding the airport have support from members of the Hamdan tribe, which is loyal to the former president.

Violence has also continued elsewhere in Yemen. On Friday, a suspected al Qaeda militant died in a botched suicide attack on an intelligence office in the city of Mansoura in Aden province. One civilian is reported to have died in the blast when the explosives the militant was carrying blew up prematurely.

Officials say another suicide attack in Bayda province on an intelligence building also failed on Friday.

tj/acb (AP, AFP)