By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Tanks and other armored vehicles were deployed in Yemen’s capital, Sanna, today as a senior army commander defected to the side of demonstrators calling for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Dozens of Yemeni military officers followed the commander’s lead and publicly pledged their support for the protest movement.
Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, commander of the army’s first armored division, told reporters in Sanaa today that he had joined the protest movement against Saleh. He had been a close aide to the embattled president.
Al-Ahmar’s resignation follows the killing of dozens of protesters in a government crackdown on March 18. The killings have prompted a wave of mass demonstrations across the country.
Saleh on March 20 fired his government. But reports say the cabinet was sacked because Saleh learned the ministers were planning to resign in protest over the killings.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today denounced the use of live ammunition by army troops against protesters in Sanaa.