Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi
Yemen's new president Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, pictured here in February 2012, vowed on Saturday he will push efforts to unite the army that was split during the uprising against his predecessor, and wage a relentless war against Al-Qaeda militants. © Mohammed Huwais - AFP/File
Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi
Last updated: May 5, 2012

Yemen president vows to unite army and fight Al-Qaeda

Yemen's new president vowed on Saturday he will push efforts to unite the army that was split during the uprising against his predecessor, and to wage a relentless war against Al-Qaeda militants.

"I shall not tolerate a continued division in the army, and shall not allow any attempt to take the army away from its main duties," said President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, addressing the military academy in Sanaa.

In his first public speech since taking office after February elections, Hadi added: "There is only one command for the army and one command for security forces."

Dissident troops had sided with protests against the regime of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and battled security forces and troops loyal to the veteran leader who stepped down following a Gulf-brokered peace plan.

Some Saleh loyalists and relatives continue to lead important security forces, notably his son Ahmed who heads the elite Republican Guard. But others have been removed.

"Talking of stability in the country and protecting people and their interests remains meaningless without a strong and united army and security forces," he said.

He also vowed to intensify the fight against Al-Qaeda militants who had taken advantage of the authorities' weakness to regroup in the south and east of the impoverished country.

"The war against terrorists has not started yet, and will not be over before we purge every province and village so that the displaced can return home peacefully," he warned.

He said the fight will continue until the "members of the terrorist organisation hand in their weapons and abandon the thoughts that contradict the religion."

Saleh had for long been considered a key ally of Washington in the fight against Al-Qaeda, before he had to step down after a year of protests.

On Saturday, five Al-Qaeda militants were killed in an air raid targeting their vehicle outside the town of Loder in the southern Abyan province, a member of the pro-government Popular Resistance Committees told AFP.

Another raid hit an Al-Qaeda position in the southern outskirts of the town.

Loder is 150 kilometres (96 miles) northeast of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province which was overrun last May by the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law), an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula.

Meanwhile, nine soldiers were wounded when a mortar round fired by Al-Qaeda militants hit an army post northeast of Zinjibar, a military official said.

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