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Yemen ruling party faces splintering of ranks - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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An armed follower of the Shi'ite Houthi movement mans a checkpoint in Sana'a, Yemen, on November 12, 2014. (EPA/Yahya Arhab)

An armed follower of the Shi’ite Houthi movement mans a checkpoint in Sana’a, Yemen, on November 12, 2014. (EPA/Yahya Arhab)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s ruling party, the General People’s Congress (GPC), led by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, faces a split over its recent decision to sack Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi from his post as the GPC’s secretary-general, a source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Senior GPC members in southern Yemen are considering breaking away from the ruling party in protest against the decision, which they claim was prompted by supporters of Saleh, a GPC source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat.

On November 8, the GPC decided to dismiss Hadi and his aide Abdul Karim Al-Iryani. The step sparked an outcry among GPC members in the southern city of Aden last week. Around 200 GPC members from the city issued a statement condemning the decision which they said was “completely void” and violated party rules.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s Minister of Interior Maj. Gen. Jalal Al-Rawishan appointed Brig. Gen. Abdul-Razaq Al-Maruni as the Special Security Forces (SSF) Chief of Staff two days after clashes erupted near an SSF base in Sana’a, in what was described as a mutiny within its ranks.

According to reports, Al-Maruni may act as a replacement of the SSF Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammed Mansour Al-Ghadraa who escaped an assassination attempt by SSF personnel backed by Houthi militants on Thursday.

The SSF operates under the ministry of interior and oversees the work of all police forces.

The appointment of Maruni, who is close to the Houthi movement, is believed to be part of the government plan to integrate thousands of Houthi militants into the country’s official military establishment as stipulated under the Peace and National Partnership Agreement between the Shi’ite group and Hadi.

Militants loyal to the Shi’ite leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi took control of the capital Sana’a in September following protests against a controversial fuel subsidy cut and what they described as discrimination on the part of the central government.

The powerful Shi’ite group refuses to evacuate key government buildings despite the UN-sponsored deal.

The Houthi movement is preparing a list of its militants to integrate into the ranks of the security services, interior ministry units and military forces, an official source who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media told Asharq Al-Awsat.

According to the source, the lists include thousands of names of the members of the so-called People’s Committees, militias the group has deployed across the streets of the country.

Houthi militants attacked a public square in the Red Sea city of Al-Hudaydah on Friday to clear a protest organized by members of the Hirak Al-Tuhami, an anti-Houthi group.

“The Houthi militant group, which occupies the historic Corniche Al-Hudaydah castle, attacked the square at the end of [Friday] prayers,” a leading Hirak Al-Tuhami member, Ahmad Hibatullah, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Shi’ite militants attacked protesters after they failed to meet a two-hour deadline to evacuate the area, the source added.

Mohammed Al-Hashemi contributed reporting from Aden. Wael Hazam contributed reporting from Al-Hudaydah.