Yemen celebrates new map of six regions

Published on 11 February 2014 in News
Nadia Al-Sakkaf (author)

Nadia Al-Sakkaf


SANA’A, Feb. 10—The final map for the Federal Republic of Yemen was decided Monday, just one day before the third anniversary of Yemen’s uprising in Taiz. All members of the Region Defining Committee—with the exception of the Houthis— signed off on the new map.

The Houthis claimed that the process was flawed, voiced some opposition to the Regions Document, and did not vote in favor of it. They did say, however, that their position was not fixed and that they might eventually agree with the six-region solution. In any event, their vote was not needed because 21 out of 22 potential votes constituted a clear majority—and the map was approved.

The Yemeni Socialist Party signed, but, as expected, expressed their reservations about having the South split into two regions.

The signing of this agreement on federal regions is considered a defining step toward the creation of the Constitutional Drafting Committee, the membership of which President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi has promised to announce in the coming few days.

The Regions Document includes a number of important provisions, the most significant of which is that the map can be revisited after one five-year electoral term—the first elections are expected to be held in 2015. This encompasses reevaluations of the borders of states—formerly known as governorates—within the same region, as well as the borders between the six regions within the Federal Republic of Yemen.

The relationship between the regions and the federal government will be written into the constitution. The details will be defined in a Federal Regions Law after the constitution has been approved via a national referendum, expected to take place three months after the creation of the Constitutional Drafting Committee. Each region will have the autonomy to devise its own regional laws to define the relationship among its various states.

The federal capital will remain the city of Sana’a, and, by republican decree, its geographical footprint will increase by about 40 percent. Similarly, Aden city will be enlarged along the coastline, potentially all the way to the Strait of Bab-el-Mandab on the Red Sea.

Sana’a city, located within the new Azal region, will not be the capital of the region. The new regional capital must be located within the existing Sana’a governorate. The exact location will be decided within the next three days, and President Hadi will have the final say.

Every other region, however, will have its principal regional city as its capital city.

Moreover, in order to ensure fairness among the states within the regions, it has been agreed that parliamentary leadership rotate among the states each term. Similarly, the Regions Document includes a clause to ensure that no single state controls or has majority in the executive power of that region.