News24

Officers: Mutinies spread to 4 Yemen bases

2012-01-23 16:23

Sana’a - A wave of mutinies demanding the ouster of Yemen's air force commander spread to four military air bases on Monday, officers said, a day after the nation's outgoing president departed the country.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh left his battered nation on his way to the US for medical treatment after passing power to his deputy and asking for forgiveness for any "shortcomings" during his 33-year reign.

He has said he will return to Yemen, but the move appears to be putting pressure on Saleh's key allies like his half-brother Major General Mohammed Saleh, commander of the air force.

Protests by Yemeni airmen demanding that he step down started over the weekend and are now spreading across the country.

A senior officer in the Yemen's largest air base of Al Anad in the southern Lahj province, Abdul-Qader Sufian, said on Monday that the troops at his base were demanding the general's removal.

"No to injustice, no to dictatorship, no to corruption," one banner hanging on Al Anad's walls read.

Colonel Mohammed al-Qubati at the air base in the capital Sana'a says about 200 airmen were continuing a protest that they started on Sunday. They had been pushed from the air base by loyalist troops but had moved into the city, and were protesting at the nearby residence of Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The officers said that the garrisons of two more bases, at Taiz in the south and at Hodeida in the west, were also protesting.

Yemenis fear that despite Saleh's departure, little change will take place in the country as his regime, family and tribal members are still holding powerful positions in the government and security apparatus.

After months of diplomatic pressure and mass protests calling for his ouster, Saleh signed a deal in November to transfer authority to his vice president in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Since then, Saleh exercised power behind the scenes, sparking accusations he sought to scuttle the deal and cling to power.