Sanaa: Yemen`s new President faced a new challenge on Sunday when the powerful son of the man he replaced appointed his own person — a relative — to head a security unit to protect his father.
One of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi`s main goals has been to purge the military of his predecessor`s cronies and relatives to enable reforms and restore security to the country in turmoil for more than a year.
These steps are seen essential to enable Yemen`s armed forces to confront al Qaeda-linked militants, who have taken over parts of southern Yemen while the country has been distracted by the power struggle in the capital.
A senior military official in the Defense Ministry said former president Ali Abdullah Saleh continues to meddle in the country`s affairs.
Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, son of the former president, commands the powerful Special Forces and Republican Guard, among the country`s best trained troops. His appointment of a relative, Tarek Mohammed, to head his father`s security unit was direct insubordination to Hadi.
Hadi had already demoted Mohammed from head of the Presidential Guards to head a provincial military unit, an order Mohammed and the younger Saleh refused to obey.
The militant group said Sunday it released 73 soldiers captured by its fighters during battles with government forces in the south.
The terror network said in an emailed statement that the freeing of the soldiers followed mediation efforts by tribal elders and senior clerics. Relatives of some freed prisoners confirmed the release.
The soldiers were freed in the city of Jaar in the southern province of Abyan in a ceremony attended by top leaders of the terror network in Yemen, including military leader Qasim al-Rimi, witnesses and the statement said. The soldiers left in trucks and private cars for the nearby port city of Aden.
Al Qaeda has held Jaar for a year. The province`s capital Zinjibar is also under al Qaeda control, but government troops fought their way into its center last week.