x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Yemen president orders military trial for Saleh's rebelling half-brother

Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, who is also the supreme commander of the Yemeni armed forces, said Brigadier General Mohammed Saleh Al Ahmer should face trial for not step down from his position as commander of the air force, according to an official at the president's office.

SANAA // Yemen's president yesterday ordered a military trial for an ousted air force commander who is a half-brother of the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, who is also the supreme commander of the Yemeni armed forces, said Brigadier General Mohammed Saleh Al Ahmer should face trial for rebelling against an order to step down from his position as commander of the air force, according to an official at the president's office.

The official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said that Gen Al Ahmer should be prosecuted before a military court for mutinying against Mr Hadi's decision to sack him as well as for ordering the flying of military jets outside the command of the defence ministry.

On April 6, Mr Hadi dismissed several military commanders loyal to Mr Saleh, including Gen Al Ahmer and Tariq Mohammed Saleh, the former president's nephew, from his post as a commander of the Presidential Guards. Gen Al Ahmer refused to comply with the decision. Armed men loyal to him closed Sanaa International Airport.

The airport was opened the next day, but Gen Al Ahmer, who held his post for more than 20 years, refused to leave the air force headquarters, next to the airport, or hand over his duties. He left the same day the airport was reopened but later returned and remains there, officials at the base said.

Yesterday, Mr Hadi met with European Union ambassadors and discussed possible measures to be taken against those who stand against his orders or undermine the Gulf Cooperation Council-backed transition deal, which led to Mr Saleh stepping down after 33 years in power.

That deal involved Mr Hadi running a transitional government for two years and overhauling the fractious military.

"We are here to express our full support to you in all the steps and decisions you have taken," Michele Cervone D'Urso, the EU ambassador to Yemen, was quoted by the state Saba news agency as saying at the meeting with Mr Hadi. Mr D'Urso also said the EU would back Mr Hadi's efforts to move Yemen forward after a year of often violent protests calling for Mr Saleh to leave office and face trial.

A western diplomat who requested anonymity said Mr Hadi's orders "demonstrate that he is more serious than any time before".

Mr Hadi's shake-up of the military, which was hailed by the GCC and the US, followed growing concerns that Mr Saleh was using loyalists to further destabilise the country.

Mr Saleh formally handed over power to Mr Hadi, who was his vice president, in February, under the GCC deal. The deal, which granted Mr Saleh immunity from prosecution, allowed him to remain as head of his party, the General People's Congress, and keep half of his cabinet ministers in place.

Some of Mr Saleh's relatives kept their positions in Mr Hadi's personnel moves. His son, Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, retained command of the Republican Guard, while a nephew, Yahia Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, kept his job as the head of the Central Security Forces.

Mr Saleh said on Thursday his loyalists should maintain leading roles in running the country's affairs to ensure stability, in a clear warning against attempts by his successor to purge them.

"Yemen will not see stability without an effective role for the leadership and the bases of the General People's Congress party," he said.

Meanwhile, three people were killed and eight others were wounded yesterday in an Al Qaeda suicide attack in the southern city of Lawdar, Abyan province.

Local officials and residents said a suicide bomber attacked with his explosives-laden vehicle a checkpoint for the civilian committee members fighting the militants, killing three and wounding eight others.

They said the attack was on a checkpoint in Al Hidhn village to the west of Lawdar where the militants have been battling the civilian committee members backed by the army since Monday.

Residents said fierce clashes took place as the army shelled with mortars the strongholds of the militants. The defence ministry said that eight civilians including three children were injured in shelling by the militants on houses in the city.

In the southeastern province of Hadramaut, a roadside bomb targeting a Yemeni security patrol yesterday killed three children on their way to school. The defence ministry blamed Al Qaeda for the blast.

malqadhi@thenational.ae

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