SANAA - Yemen's President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has ordered a restructuring of army forces, reducing the number of units under the command of rival chiefs including the son of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, state media said.
In a presidential decree, Hadi ordered the formation of a "Presidential Protection" force which will include three brigades from the elite Republican Guard commanded by Saleh's son Ahmed, official news agency Saba reported late on Monday.
The force will also include a brigade from the First Armoured Division led by General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar who defected to the anti-Saleh opposition last year, Saba said.
Hadi also assigned other brigades from both rival units to the central and southern regions, it added.
The measures were immediately welcomed by Ahmar who broke away from Saleh in March 2011 and used his forces to protect anti-Saleh protesters who finally pushed the veteran leader to accept a Gulf-brokered deal that eased him out of office.
That deal also stipulated that Hadi who replaced him must also restructure the armed forces.
Ahmar described Hadi's decisions as "courageous."
"These decisions serve the nation, reunite units, restore discipline within the army and create suitable conditions to restructure the military," Ahmar said in comments also reported by Saba.
He "affirmed his willingness to implement all presidential decisions," the agency added.
General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose feared troops have remained loyal to the former president, has yet to announce his reaction to the move.
In May, Saleh's nephew General Tariq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh finally stepped down after refusing for a whole month to accept his dismissal.
The former president's half-brother, General Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar who was commander of the air force, also agreed to quit in April after refusing for weeks to vacate the post he had held for three decades.
His loyalists briefly protested against his removal, laying siege to Sanaa airport and even threatening to shoot down planes, forcing its closure for one day.