Yemen purges army from Saleh loyalists
SANAA - Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi sacked top security chiefs seen as loyal to ousted leader Ali Abdullah Saleh in a reshuffle announced on state television Tuesday that pushes forward a transition of power.
Among those removed from their posts was the head of the country's National Security force, Ali al-Anisi, and Saleh's half-brother, Ali Saleh al-Ahmar, who was director of the office of the armed forces' top commander.
Ainsi was replaced by the governor of Shabwa province in the south, Ali al-Ahmadi.
The two dismissed chiefs have been compensated with low-profile posts as ambassadors at the foreign ministry, according to the decrees.
Yemen's military intelligence chief, Mujahid Ghoshaim, was also removed from his post.
In other reshuffles, Hadi removed oil minister Hisham Sharaf, and promoted his deputy Ahmed Abdullah Dariss to the post, while Sharaf was assigned the portfolio of higher education.
The decisions came on the day a car bomb targeting Defence Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed ripped through a vehicle carrying his guards killing seven of them, as well as five other people.
Ahmed survived the assassination bid.
Hadi had embarked on a process to restructure the military and security forces as stipulated by a Gulf-brokered deal that eased veteran Saleh out of office and ended 13 months of protests against his regime.
The security services had been controlled by officials linked to Saleh for decades. The strongman had ruled in Sanaa for 33 years..
In a presidential decree last month, Hadi ordered the formation of a "presidential protection" force which will include three brigades from the elite Republican Guard, led by Saleh's son, Ahmed.
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.
Hadi assigned other brigades from the two rival units to the central and southern regions, it added.
But the restructuring is not being accepted smoothly.
On July 31, a group of policemen occupied the interior ministry and clashed with other forces in a gunfight that left 15 people dead.
Yemen's Supreme Security Committee blamed the assault on "a group of inciters among the ranks of the police force aiming to undermine security." The government accused those behind the attack of "seeking to spread chaos in a desperate attempt to undermine the political process in Yemen."
Anti-Saleh activists accuse him of instigating violence to hamper the transition led by Hadi, calling for him and former aides to be stripped of the immunity from prosecution granted under the Gulf-brokered agreement.
More than 200,000 demonstrators rallied Tuesday in Sanaa, in the largest protest since Saleh officially stepped down in February, demanding that he face prosecution for the killing of protesters during last year's uprising.
"If the immunity remains, Saleh and his followers will be encouraged to continue in sabotaging oil (pipelines), and (the) electricity grid, robbing, and supporting terrorism," said a banner carried by demonstrators.