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Thousands of Yemenis rally to support president's military reform

English.news.cn   2012-12-21 04:17:13            

SANAA, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets across Yemen on Thursday to support President Abd- Rabbu Mansour Hadi's controversial army reform that scrapped the military grip of relatives of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of Hadi's residential compound in eastern Sanaa, chanting slogans to support Hadi's military reform. Similar pro-Hadi rallies took place in several other provinces, including al-Bayda, Dhamar, Ibb and Taiz.

In the decrees issued late Wednesday, Hadi dissolved the country's elite Republican Guard, which was under the command of Saleh's son, Ahmed Ali, and sacked Saleh's nephew from the command of the central security forces.

Hadi also abolished the First Armored Division led by General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who fought against Saleh last year, restructuring it along with the units of the Republican Guards into four new active-duty branches, including land forces, air forces, navy forces and border guard.

However, the decrees pointed out that "this regulation is valid for a period of five years, and is subject to review when need arises."

The reforms came 11 months after Hadi took office to pave the way for an upcoming national reconciliation dialogue in line with a UN-backed power transfer deal that eased Saleh out of power following a year-long deadly street protests.

The move was largely highlighted by all rival forces, including Saleh, his son and nephew.

"I wish Hadi's decision to restructure the army will bring Yemen back on the track of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal, " Saleh said, according to his party's website.

Al-Ahmar, who broke up with Saleh and joined the opposition last year to fight against Saleh's regime, which left more than 2, 000 people dead, also welcomed the new military restructure and voiced complete support to Hadi's order, according to a statement posted on his website.

Hadi's decision was also hailed by former opposition parties which are now leading Hadi's two-year interim government, the state Saba news agency reported Thursday.

GCC chief Abdulatif al-Zayani, who played a key role in brokering the power transfer deal in Yemen, talked with Hadi on the decision of the military reform late Wednesday via phone, according to Saba.

"The progress in the restructure of the army is a must," al- Zayani told Hadi, expressing full support of the GCC states to Hadi's decision for implementing the Gulf initiative and the UN Security Council resolutions.

The Republican Guard consists of four missile defense brigades and several small other infantry units. The missile defense brigades will fall under direct command of the defense ministry according to the decrees.

The remaining forces, including al-Sawad unit and Raimat Hameed unit in Sanaa, brigade 62 and brigade 63 in Arhab district in the north of Sanaa, brigade 26 in the southern province of al-Bayda, and brigade 55 between the southern provinces of Dhamar and Ibb, will be under the command of Saleh's son.

Al-Ahmar, Saleh's half-brother, also kept several units in Sanaa and the northern provinces of Amran and Saada under his command in accordance to the decrees.

Saleh's nephew Yehya Mohamed Abdullah Saleh kept no post in the security forces after Hadi replaced him with Major General Ahmed Ali al-Maqdashi as the chief of staff of the central security forces.

According to the defense ministry's website, Saleh's nephew officially handed over the command of the central security forces to al-Maqdashi Thursday morning.

Hadi's reform announcement came one day after UN envoy to Yemen Jamal bin Omar warned of possible sanctions against those impeding the political transition process.

"The United Nations would impose individual or group sanctions against whoever attempts to hamper the track of the political settlement," bin Omar was quoted by the Yemeni official Saba news agency as saying during his meeting with Hadi on Tuesday.

The military reconstruction was stipulated in the UN-backed power transfer deal, which was brokered by neighboring Gulf countries after last year's unrest almost pulled Yemen into a civil war.

After Hadi was elected president in February to lead a two-year political transition, he has been urging a comprehensive reconciliation dialogue to end the impasse among political factions.

The dialogue, which was scheduled in mid November to preserve the unity between the north and south of Yemen, was delayed to later this month due to disputes between the government and southern politicians on issues of secession for the formerly independent south.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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