Yemen begins returning to normal

2011-12-17 20:02

Sanaa - A Yemeni military commission began returning the capital to normality on Saturday, removing checkpoints and barricades erected during months of deadly protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Bulldozers were seen removing sand berms thrown up by the pro-Saleh Central Security service at the Asser roundabout, under the supervision of members of the joint commission formed by the new opposition-led government, an AFP correspondent reported.

The neighbourhood was scene of frequent clashes between Saleh loyalists and demonstrators marching from nearby Change Square - the focal point of anti-Saleh protests that was protected by the dissident First Armoured Division led by General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar.

"We have received orders to withdraw from this area following the instructions of the military commission," said a divisional officer at Sitin Street as his troops cleared the area.

The national unity government overseeing the departure from office of long-serving Saleh formed the commission to restore stability under the terms of a transition deal.


The commission is led by Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, who has been charged with managing the transfer of power and designated to serve as a consensus president following Saleh's departure, expected in February.

It will also aim to reform the security services, controlled partly by Saleh loyalists, in accordance with the transition deal signed by Saleh in November after more than 10 months of protests against his 33-year rule.

Violence in Yemen has continued since the agreement was signed, notably in Sanaa and in the second city of Taez, where clashes between loyalist troops and dissidents have left dozens dead.

Meanwhile, six alleged members of al-Qaeda were killed in army shelling in the southern city of Zinjibar, most of which was overran by Islamist militants in May, local officials said on Friday.

And three soldiers were killed and two wounded in clashes with al-Qaeda gunmen on the outskirts of Zinjibar, a military official said.

Yemeni government forces have been backed by tribal fighters and sometimes supported by US drone strikes in their fight against the al-Qaeda-linked Partisans of Sharia, which has controlled most of Zinjibar.