Sana’a: Most of the major political, religious, and tribal forces in Yemen who had rejected a plan to split the country into a six-region federation have reluctantly agreed not to stand in its way.
The Socialist Party, Yemen Islamic Clerics Commission, Al Rashad Party, Al Houthis and the hard-line factions of the Southern Movement rejected the Region Defining Committee’s decision to divide the country into a six region federation.
Despite their opposition, the socialists signed the draft of the binding decision while Al Houthis declined to sign.
Prominent Islamic cleric Abdul Majid Al Zindani and many other conservative clerics voiced their opposition to the idea of federalism, saying that the move would split the country into small entities that could fight with one another.
The Salafi Al Rashad party said its proposal for the country was to maintain the status quo while giving more authority to the current provinces.
The head of the party, Mohammad Al Ameri, told a local news agency that the panel approved federalism in order to escape solving the country’s problems and to “please the interests of some political forces”. But the party’s leader said that his party would not deter implementation of the new move.
Another group, the southern-rooted Socialist Party, was in favour of a south-north system as a middle ground between demands of secessionists and those calling for preserving the union. The party’s sectary-general, Yassin Saeed Noman, who was also vice-president of the National Dialogue Conference, said in a statement on his party’s website that the Socialist Party would stick to its choice of federalism based on two regions; south and north. “We are committed to keeping the south united as a historical fact that contributed to the unification of Yemen.”
However, Abu Baker Bathieb, Noman’s deputy in the party and a member of Region Defining Committee said: “Our reservations would not prevent [the party] from actively participating in enhancing and promoting the pillars of the new federal state and the party would not be a hindrance to the existing political path.”
Al Houthi rebels in the north also criticised the decision, saying that it would split the country into regions for the “haves and the have-nots”.
“There are no clear criteria used for dividing the country. In the south, they put the oil-rich areas in one province called Hadramout, and put the wealthy northern provinces in the region of Saba,” Ali Al Bikhiti, an Al Houthispokesman told Gulf News.
The strongest opposition to the federal system, however, came from the hard-line factions of the Southern Movement who have adamantly opposed the political process from the day one. The movement’s activists say that they are not obliged to abide by the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference since it was initiated to “settle the differences in the north”.
The factions vowed to organise big rallies in the south to foil the plans.
“We managed to gain our rights through peaceful means. People [in the south] are fed up with the status quo and eager for change.” general Khalid Baras, a southern activist, said.