Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has ordered the removal of top security officials from government, in a major shake-up directed at allies of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Hadi removed Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh as head of the elite Republican Guard, appointing him ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, the country’s state-run television reported on Wednesday. The military commander is a son of the former president.
General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, commander of the First Armoured Division and a rival of Ahmed Saleh, was named presidential adviser for military affairs.
In a separate statement sent to Al Jazeera, Yemen’s embassy in Washington, DC, said Hadi’s order also covered two nephews of the former president, who had served in the Presidential Guard and the intelligence service.
Brigadier Tariq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh was named defence attaché to Germany, while Colonel Ammar Mohammed Abdullah Saleh was appointed to a similar post in Ethiopia.
Dozens of military officials were named in the statement provided to Al Jazeera.
Former president Saleh, who stepped down in early 2012 after more than a year of protests against his rule, placed relatives and loyalists in top military and government posts over his 33-year rule.
The Saleh appointees have been accused of obstructing the US-backed government as it tries to reform and fight an active al-Qaeda branch in the impoverished Arab nation.
Retired general Mohammed Sarei Shaye said the orders “effectively ended the divisions” in the army and put all forces under the president’s control.
“It is a strike by a master,” Shaye said. “It uprooted all centres of power in the army.”
Political commentator Abdel-Bari Taher said the orders made Hadi “truly the president and sole decision maker of the army”.
Celebrations in Sanaa
Gulf neighbours and Western nations fear Saleh’s continuing influence, not least through his powerful son, could tip a delicate political transition into chaos.
Dozens of youths gathered outside Hadi’s home in the capital, Sanaa, to show support for the decisions.
“March, O Hadi, we are behind you until we achieve change,” they chanted.
Fireworks went off in Sanaa and in Yemen’s second largest city, Taiz, after the announcement.
The decisions were announced while Saleh was in neighbouring Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. He has been under international pressure to leave the country.
Saleh’s family-owned TV channel Yemen el-Yowm reported on Wednesday that the president’s son “welcomes the decision” and “does not oppose it”.
Last December, Hadi ordered similar overhauls of the country’s defence ministry, including the abolition of the Republican Guard.
In March, Hadi also launched a conference of national reconciliation, which is expected to produce a draft of a new constitution.