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Yemen president fires relatives of Ali Abdullah Saleh in military shakeup

Yemen’s newly appointed president has embarked on a purge of old-regime figures and relatives of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh from the country’s military.

Yemen military 2011 3 22Enlarge
Yemeni armored personnel carriers are deployed outside the Central Bank in Sanaa on March 21, 2011 as a dangerous split opened between the military leadership after top generals joined the revolt against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime. (Ahmad Gharabli/Getty Images)

Yemen’s newly appointed president has embarked on a purge of old-regime figures and relatives of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh from the country’s military.

However, according to CNN, two prominent members of Saleh's family remained in powerful military posts: Brigadier Gen. Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president's son, remained as head of the Republican Guard; and Brigadier Gen. Yahya Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, the former president's nephew, as head of Central Security Forces.

However, among those fired were the former president's half-brother, Gen. Mohammed Saleh Al-Ahmar, head of air force demoted to the position of an assistant to the minister of defense, and the former president's nephew, Tareq Saleh, who had been head of the presidential guard, CNN reported.

The Associated Press cited a statement by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi as saying four governors and over a dozen military generals were sacked "to make way for new officials."

CNN quoted Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington as saying "President Hadi promised major change in the military, and tonight that promise was delivered. This is the biggest military shakeup in modern Yemen history."

Saleh resigned from power amid the Arab Spring uprisings last year, as part of a US-backed, Gulf-brokered power transfer deal.

Hadi was his deputy, and took over the presidency and was confirmed as president after a nationwide vote in which he was the only candidate

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Saleh, who remained as head of the ruling party, was also granted him immunity from prosecution.

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According to the BBC, Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis took part in demonstrations on Friday to demand reform of the military.

In unrelated violence earlier on Friday, a suicide bomber blew up a motorbike near intelligence offices in eastern Yemen, but no injuries were reported, while another suicide attack was aborted in the south, the AP quoted the defence ministry as saying.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120406/yemen-military-purge-ali-abdullah-saleh