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Military council formed in Yemen

By Hakim Almasmari, For CNN
December 4, 2011 -- Updated 2300 GMT (0700 HKT)
A newly formed military council in Yemen will be responsible for stabilizing the country and reforming its military.
A newly formed military council in Yemen will be responsible for stabilizing the country and reforming its military.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A political official says all sides are optimistic that the council will help
  • "This will help in getting the gunmen out of the streets ... and make the country safer"
  • Council members will be evenly divided between the ruling party and the opposition

SANAA, Yemen (CNN) -- Yemen's vice president announced Sunday the formation of a military council of 14 members whose duties will be to stabilize the country and reform the military, a senior official in the vice president's office told CNN.

Vice President Abdu Rabu Hadi issued a presidential decree on the council formation, the official said, putting an end to speculation that a power-transfer deal signed last month would face major obstacles during its first 30 days.

Council members are evenly divided between the ruling party and the opposition, with each side receiving seven seats in the council.

Among the members of the council will be Yemen's ministers of defense and interior.

Tareq Shami, the media officer of the ruling General People Congress party, told CNN that all sides are optimistic this council will help in solving the security situation in the country.

"This is a good step and we support it. This will help in getting the gunmen out of the streets in Yemen and make the country safer," said Shami.

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Differences arose between the sides on Friday when Hadi informed the opposition that the new government should be formed before the military council.

This caused outrage within the opposition and resulted in a firm opposition stance rejecting any government formation until the council is created.

Opposition Joint Meeting Parties spokesmen said on Saturday that they would not accept a newly formed government unless the military council was created.

In a Gulf Cooperation Council power-transfer deal that included President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down, it states that the military council should be formed within five days of the signing of that agreement while the new government was to be announced within 14 days. The signing took place on November 24 in Riyadh.

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Sanaa-based political analyst Ali Jaradi told CNN the duties of the council are critical and its members need to understand that the future of Yemen somewhat lies in their hands.

"One of the main duties of the council will be to remove the ruling family control over the country's military. If this does not happen, the council is useless," Jaradi told CNN.

Millions of Yemenis, including revolutionist youths, rejected the power-transfer deal and have not stopped protesting throughout the country.

Protests against the current government took place in 12 Yemeni provinces on Sunday.

"We do not recognize any government and will continue protesting until our revolution sees light. We are patient and no government can force us to go home," said Abdul Malik al-Rathmi, a youth activist who has protested daily since March.

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