x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Yemenis protest in thousands against Saleh loyalists in new cabinet

'No partnership with the murderers', activists say, while Yemen forces say that nine Al Qaeda militants have been killed in south of the country.

SANAA // Tens of thousands of Yemenis marched in the streets of the Yemeni capital today, chanting "no partnership with murderers", in reference to former regime loyalists that have been appointed to the newly formed unity government.

Mohammed Basindawa, Yemen's prime minister designate, announced the new government yesterday, with half the cabinet posts entrusted to members of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ruling party, and the other half to the opposition.

"Basindawa, they cannot be trusted," chanted the protesters as they marched through the streets of Sanaa, whole swathes of which have been devastated by months of fighting between anti-government and pro-Saleh forces.

"No partnership with the murderers," they yelled.

The protesters, thousands of whom camped out in Change Square — the centre of the pro-democracy movement that has rocked the country since January — have endured the brunt of a brutal government crackdown on dissent.

Hundreds of Yemenis have been killed and thousands more wounded in more than 11 months of demonstrations that continue despite a GCC-backed power transfer deal to ensure Mr Saleh to step aside.

The protesters, most of them youth activists, have also expressed dismay with the formal opposition for signing the GCC plan which promises Saleh immunity from prosecution for alleged crimes committed against Yemenis since the uprising.

The new government will be formally sworn in on Saturday, according to a statement from the official news agency SABA, and will carry out its duties for a period of three months, after which early elections will be held and Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, the vice president, is expected to take over the presidency.

Until then, Mr Saleh remains the honorary president, and despite the formation of a committee to restructure the country's military forces as stipulated by the transition plan, most units are still under the command of Mr Saleh's sons and nephews.

Meanwhile, in the south of the country, nine suspected Al Qaeda militants have been killed in an attack on a Yemeni military unit in Abyan, a military official said.

A Yemeni soldier was also killed in the attack which took place last night near Abyan's capital Zinjibar.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least four soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Residents in the nearby town of Jaar meanwhile reported seeing militants transporting bodies for burial.

Since May, Yemeni troops have been battling militants believed to affiliated with Al Qaeda to regain control of at least three cities in Abyan, including Zinjibar, under militant control.

Despite months of clashes and hundreds of casualties on both sides, government troops have so far failed to wrest back full control of the area.