Yemen's president and main political parties on Monday (February 10th) voted to transform the country into a six-region federation, with two regions in the south and four in the north.
The decision came at the meeting of a committee formed in late January at the end of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) to decide on the number of regions.
The majority of the committee members voted for the establishment of the federation comprising the following six regions: Hadramaut region, including al-Mahrah, Hadramaut, Shabwa and Socotra; Saba region, including al-Jawf, Marib and al-Bayda; Aden region, including Aden, Abyan, Lahij and al-Dali; al-Janad region, including Taiz and Ibb; Azal region, including Saada, Sanaa, Omran and Dhamar; and Tihama region, including al-Hodeidah, Raima, al-Mahwit and Hajjah.
Monday's decision "came after consensus was reached by most committee members and following a review of best standards and models of federal states in the world, and how to divide economic resources, ensure justice and good governance, reduce expenses and fight corruption", said NDC Secretary-General Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, rapporteur of the region determination committee.
"The basic state model has failed in Yemen, whether the two-state model, one in the north and the other in the south, before unification [in 1990], or the state formed by unification," he said.
A federal state is the type of authority that is closest to the people, he said, as it provides four levels of government: federal, regional, on the level of states and on the level of municipal councils.
"This system provides for greater participation of citizens in government," he added.
Each of the six regions will have its own legislative council and a local government that includes the service ministries, while the central government will retain the sovereign ministries, bin Mubarak said.
Each region will have a leading role in economic development in an effort towards a better management of resources and in ensuring equal citizenship rights and duties for all citizens, he added.
The city of Sanaa will have a special status as the capital of the federal state and will not be under the authority of any region. The same applies to the city of Aden, which will have special status as an administrative and economic city within the framework of the Aden region, and will have independent legislative and executive authorities, according to bin Mubarak.
"The federal state is the only way out of Yemen's numerous problems, because the system of regions will create positive competition among the regions and integration that ensures efficient use of the resources of each region," said Abdullah Lamlas of the region determination committee.
Lamlas said the committee considered several criteria in the division process, including the ability of each region to achieve economic stability, geographical connections between the people of provinces within the same region, and social, cultural and historical factors.
Afrah al-Zouba, another committee member, told Al-Shorfa the committee sought to ensure there will be equal rights within each region, "so no province monopolises power to the exclusion of the other provinces in the same region".
To ensure there is true partnership within the legislature of each region and equitable representation of each state in the federal parliament, the committee approved rotating presidencies for legislative councils, she said.
"The revenue generated from the regions' natural and non-natural resources will be distributed among all people [of the federal state] in a transparent and fair manner" after consultation with the regions and states, al-Zouba said.
This will take into account the needs of producing states and regions in particular and allocating a portion of these revenues to the federal state, which will in turn redistribute them among non-producing regions, she added.
The new six-region division will be included in the new constitution, which will be drafted and put to a referendum within a year before presidential and parliamentary elections are held.