Yemen to seek six-region federation as fighting in north leaves 30 dead over past two days
Yemen's interim president has ordered a panel to create a constitution that would divide Yemen into a six-region federation while attacks in the country's northwest continued, leaving at least thirty dead, according to agency reports.
Agence France Presse reported Sunday that Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadihas called on a 17-member panel that is responsible for creating and implementing the country's decentralization plan to draft a constitution that will "transform Yemen into a six-region federation."
The original decentralization plan was agreed upon during the country's national conference last year that outlined a plan that would create four regions in north Yemen and two in the south.
Under presidential decree, the panel has one year to draft the constitution and it will be put to a referendum vote after it is officially adopted by the commission overseeing its work. “The panel [is] composed of experts including former diplomats and judges was ordered to act 'independently of the executive branch and political formations in the country,'” said Yemen's state Saba news agency.
The decentralization initiative is an effort by Yemen's national government to meet the demands of the country's southern population who is has been calling for greater autonomy from Sana'a for decades since the country's civil war in the 1990s. However, the initiative has been rejected by others, such as the Shiite Houthi rebels in the country's northern region as it is seen to split the country into rich and poor regions.
As Sana'a officials discussed the new federation initiative, ongoing clashes in the country's northwestern Al Jawf province left at least 30 people dead over the past two days, according to Reuters.
Fighting between Shiite Muslim insurgents and Sunni Salafi tribesman has been ongoing in the area for months, with the former trying to "strengthen their hold" and control in the area, representing another challenge to Sana'a as the leadership struggles to restore peace in the south as well.
The country's Presidential Commission intervened in the clashes in an effort to stop the fighting Sunday and that an agreement had been reached to stop the clashes between the two sides, according to the provincial governor Mohammed bin Aboud.
The Houthis control most of the Saada province that is adjacent to Al Jawf and shares a border with Saudi Arabia. For months, the Houthis have been trying to seize the town of Dammaj from Salafi control, escalating their most recent efforts in October last year.