Yemen to Restructure Army to Combat Corruption
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Thursday blasted the armed forces for rampant corruption and said the government was taking steps to restructure the military.
"The stealing of land and the terrorizing of citizens cannot be met by silence...No one should wear the military uniform except those capable of carrying out their duty," the president told graduates at a military ceremony, quoted by Reuters.
Saleh, whose comments were broadcast on state television, said some Yemenis had enlisted in the army to break the law under the cover of their uniforms.
He said a decision earlier this month to scrap compulsory military service was taken partly to combat corruption in the army. Previously, all Yemeni men above 18 could be exempted from the one-year service after paying the equivalent of $300.
"The (military service) law was abolished after some people, whether in consulates abroad or local draft offices, used the law as a source of bribes to cheat citizens," Saleh said.
He said the law had been scrapped as part of steps to restructure the armed forces to cope with national and regional changes after Yemen's unification and the resolution of outstanding border disputes with neighboring countries.
In another move to introduce changes to the tribalist country, Yemeni security forces recently held a campaign to disarm citizens with unlicensed weapons. Policemen took up positions at road junctions and were searched cars for weapons.
"We only allow those who have official permission to carry weapons to pass, otherwise we confiscate any illegal weapons we find," a security officer was quoted as saying. Unofficial estimates put the number of firearms in Yemen at nearly 60 million, making the country's collection of weapons almost three times the size of its population, which is only 18 million – Albawaba.com
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