A man is tossed into the air in Sanaa on February 8, 2014 during a rally marking the 3rd anniversary of the revolution that forced former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down
A man is tossed into the air in Sanaa on February 8, 2014 during a rally marking the 3rd anniversary of the revolution that forced former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down © Mohammed Huwais - AFP
A man is tossed into the air in Sanaa on February 8, 2014 during a rally marking the 3rd anniversary of the revolution that forced former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down
AFP
Last updated: February 10, 2014

Yemen set to become six-region federation

Yemen's president and main parties agreed Monday to transform the unrest-riven country into a six-region federation as part of a political transition.

"The final approval" on creating a "federal state of six regions" came at a meeting of a committee, headed by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and including representatives of Yemen's main parties, state news agency Saba said.

Hadi formed the committee in late January at the end of a "national dialogue" to decide on the number of regions, and to insert it into the text of a new constitution, to be drafted and voted on within a year.

Yemen's parties had been divided on whether to split the future federation into two or six regions.

Sanaa feared that a straight north-south divide could set the stage for the disgruntled south to secede.

Southern parts of Yemen formed an independent state from the end of British colonial rule in 1967 until union with the north in 1990.

A secession attempt four years later sparked a brief but bloody civil war that ended with northern forces taking over the south.

The six agreed regions include four in the north, comprising Azal, Saba, Janad and Tahama, and two in the south, Aden and Hadramawt.

Azal includes the capital Sanaa, in addition to the provinces of Dhamar, Amran and Saada, a stronghold of Shiite rebels.

Aden would comprise the capital of the former south, as well as Abyan, Lahej and Daleh, Saba reported.

The southeastern Hadramawt province would include Al-Mahra, Shebwa and the island of Socotra, while Saba comprises Bayda, Marib and Al-Jawf.

Janad would include Taez and Ibb, and Tahama also takes in Hudaydah, Rima, Mahwit and Hajja.

The city of Sanaa, however, will be a "federal city not subject to any regional authority," the panel decided, agreeing that special clauses will be put in the constitution draft "to guarantee its neutrality."

Aden will also have special "independent legislative and executive powers" to be stipulated in the constitution.

The decentralisation of power aims to meet the southerners' demands for autonomy.

Yemen's national dialogue was stipulated by a UN-backed roadmap that ended a year of protests against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down in 2012 after 33 years in power.

But as in other countries rocked by the Arab Spring, Yemen's leaders have struggled to agree on a way forward, while living conditions in the impoverished Arabian peninsula state have further deteriorated.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, meanwhile, has stepped up attacks on security forces, despite Yemeni military operations and a covert US drone campaign.

And fighting between Shiite rebels and Sunni militants has escalated in the north, while sabotage of electricity and oil infrastructure is rife in tribal areas.

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