March 2, 2012
SANAA — Thousands demonstrated across Yemen on Friday to demand that new President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi restructure the army,, in the first such rally since he took office less than a week ago.
“The people want the army restructured,” they chanted in northern Sanaa. “The people want a new Yemen.”
Similar protests took place in 17 other provinces, including Yemen’s second-largest city Taez, witnesses said.
Yemenis have gathered every Friday for the past year to demand the ouster of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh who formally handed over power to Hadi on Monday, under a Gulf-brokered transition plan.
The power transfer deal stipulates that during a two-year interim period, Hadi will oversee a restructuring of the army.
On Friday, state news agency Saba said Hadi has named General Salem Ali Qatan to head the 31st Armoured Brigade in south Yemen, a post which General Mahdi Maqola, known for his close ties to Saleh and accused of corruption, had held for decades.
Hadi also appointed a new governor and new intelligence chief for the main southern city of Aden, a separatists’ stronghold.
Anti-corruption strikes have spread across several military and government departments in the impoverished Arab country over the past two months.
Saleh had appointed relatives to head the country’s military and security apparatus.
Air force soldiers have been staging protests calling for the ouster of their commander General Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, a half-brother of Saleh.
Saleh’s son commands the elite Republican Guard troops while his nephew Yehya heads the central security services and Tariq, another nephew, controls the presidential guard.