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Yemen panel recommends six federal regions | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Yemen’s President Hadi voting on the final approval on transforming Yemen into a federal state of six regions in Sanaa (REUTERS)

Yemen's President Hadi voting on the final approval on transforming Yemen into a federal state of six regions in Sanaa (REUTERS)

Yemen’s President Hadi voting on the final approval on transforming Yemen into a federal state of six regions in Sanaa (REUTERS)

Sana’a and London, Asharq Al-Awsat—A Yemeni government committee charged with drawing up a new political blueprint for the country recommended on Monday that it become a federal republic composed of six autonomous regions.

The committee included members of Yemen’s main political parties and reached its final decision on Monday, according to Yemen’s state news agency, after two weeks of deliberation over whether the country should be divided into two or six states.

The new federal blueprint will be written into a new constitution for Yemen, which will be put to a referendum later this year.

Of the six new regions, four will be in the North—Azal, Saba, Janad and Tahama—while two will be located in the South—Aden and Hadhramaut.

The capital city, Sana’a, will reportedly become a “federal city,” with its own municipal government.

The transition to a federal republic is aimed at resolving tensions stemming from the centralization of power in Sana’a in recent decades, as well as Southern demands for secession, which led to a brief and bloody war in 1994.

The two halves of Yemen were formerly separate states, and were unified into a single republic in 1990.

The decision is likely to anger some Southern leaders, who called for the two-state option.

Elsewhere in Yemen, a presidential mediation announced a ceasefire between Arhab tribes and Houthi militias following an agreement between all parties to the conflict, under the sponsorship of the army.

The mediation committee, led by Commander of the Reserve Forces Maj. Gen. Ali Al-Ja’ifi, said the agreement came into effect on Sunday evening.

Clashes erupted two months ago between Arhab tribes and the Houthis, who control Saada and parts of Amran Province. Both sides have used medium and heavy weapons in the clashes.

Sources from the Arhab tribes told Asharq Al-Awsat that 17 people had been killed on their side, and dozens more injured. Tribal sources estimated the number of deaths among the Houthis to be around 300, although the numbers could not be confirmed by independent sources.

According to government sources, the condition of the agreement signed by the Houthis and the Arhab tribes on Sunday included an immediate ceasefire under the supervision of the committee, and the removal of the checkpoints built by both sides during recent clashes.

Both parties also reportedly agreed to turn over control of strategic roads to the army, which will begin patrolling the area to enforce the ceasefire.

The agreement also stipulated that all fighters withdraw to areas outside Arhab, starting on the third day after the signing of the agreement, and under the supervision of the committee.

The committee announced that the state would provide care for the families of those killed in the fighting, and that the agreement stipulated that the two parties recognize the other’s legitimate right to intellectual and cultural freedoms according to the constitution and the law and renounce violence.

In response to clashes between Houthis and other Yemeni factions in recent months, tribal leaders and religious scholars announced over the weekend the formation of a committee of Yemeni scholars and major figures, which they said would meet President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and call on him to impose state sovereignty over every inch of Yemeni territory and end the ongoing violence. They would also demand that Houthis were forced to hand over their heavy weapons and form a political party.

This came at the end of a tribal meeting in Sana’a at the home of the leader of the Hashid tribe, Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ahmar, whose historic stronghold in Al-Khumari in Omran Province fell under the control of Houthis a week ago. The meeting attendees warned of a civil war if the violence continued.

In the meantime, an intelligence officer and his guard were killed on Sunday in Sana’a when a bomb attached to his car exploded.

Security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the press, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Colonel Mohammad Fadil was killed along with his guard, and a civilian was injured in an explosion of a device attached to [Fadil’s] car in front of the Oil Ministry.” No party has claimed responsibility.