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Middle East

Second Saleh-related Yemen general accepts dismissal

Yemeni Army soldiers stand in a line to block protestors in front of the President's house, unseen, during a demonstration demanding the trial of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, May 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

SANAA: A nephew of Yemen's ex-strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh who commanded the presidential guard stepped down on Thursday after rejecting for a whole month a decision to sack him, the UN's envoy said.

"I witnessed the handing over of the command of the Third Brigade from General Tariq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh to Abdulrahman al-Halili, who was appointed by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi," Jamal Benomar told reporters.

"This measure takes place based on orders by Hadi and I am confident that the president will lead the country towards the shore of safety," he said.

"The time has come for Yemenis to concentrate on ending divisions within the army and on security and stability," said Benomar, who played a major role in convincing the country's former leader to step down in February, after a year-long uprising.

A source close to Benomar told AFP that the ousted chief of the presidential guard rejected Hadi's decision to give him command of the 37th battalion of the republican guard, which is based in the southeastern province of Hadramawt.

On April 14, former air force commander General Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar -- a half brother of Saleh -- also agreed to leave the post he held for nearly three decades, after refusing to quit for weeks.

In addition to rejecting the general's dismissal, Ahmar's loyalists laid siege to Sanaa's airport and forced its closure for a day after threatening to shoot down planes.

The airport was reopened after international and regional powers voiced support for Hadi, who must restructure the army based on a Gulf-brokered deal that Yemen's political parties have agreed upon.

 

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