Many Yemenis hoped Saleh would live in exile outside Yemen. Instead, he has stayed in the capital and remained the head of his party, the General People’s Congress, now also part of the coalition government. Hadi remains Saleh’s deputy in the party.
“The jury is still out on whether Hadi’s government will bring significant change or whether his rule is Saleh-lite,” said Letta Tayler, Yemen researcher for Human Rights Watch, the watchdog group.
Saleh’s critics and Western diplomats say he is using his position, his connections and his vast wealth to influence ministers, parliament members and other officials of his party. Saleh and his loyalists have launched a television station to promote their views. Some critics accuse him of using thugs to cut electricity lines and destroy oil pipelines to make Hadi’s government appear ineffective.
“The ousted president is still playing a political role. He is still practicing games of revenge against the Yemeni people,” Karman said.
Saleh’s aides deny the allegations. They, in turn, accuse the Ahmars and Mohsen of trying to grab power by having political allies appoint al-Islah-affiliated governors and hire loyalists in the military and security forces.
“Ali Abdullah Saleh is not in control of everything,” said Yasser al-Awadhi, a senior official in the General People’s Congress. “He is not interfering. It’s the Ahmars, Ali Mohsen and the Islah party that are causing obstacles.”
The mistrust is visible everywhere. A long-delayed national conference to address issues critical to Yemen’s future, such as preparations for a draft constitution, is scheduled for next month. But already there are accusations that Saleh’s camp is stacking the summit with its supporters. Groups crucial to political progress, such as southern separatists, who have a long list of grievances against Yemen’s northern rulers, are considering not participating.
Reuniting the armed forces is also widely seen as essential, but they remain divided. Hadi has managed to remove Saleh’s son, Ahmed Ali Saleh, and other Saleh relatives from key security posts. But many security officials remain loyal to the family, said analysts and diplomats.
Mohsen’s forces remain in the northwest of the capital and control Sanaa University, near Change Square, the encampment erected by the protesters two years ago. Last week, local news reports said Saleh’s son addressed Republican Guard troops as if he were their leader, even though they are nominally under Hadi’s command. The Ahmars have positioned their tribal fighters in strongholds.
“The president does not have the power. He is not in control of the security of the country,” Karman said. “In reality, Ahmed Ali is still heading the Republican Guards, and Ali Mohsen is still in control of the 1st Armored Division.”
Even some members of al-Islah, dominated by the Ahmars and Mohsen, said all elites have to leave the political and military landscape for Yemen to progress.
“They should not participate,” said Saeed Shamsan, head of the political department of the party. “They have all been rejected by the Yemeni people.”