Yemen rebels oppose six-region federation

Shia groups in north claim the newly agreed federation divides the country into poor and rich regions.

    Northern Shia rebels have rejected a six-region federation plan for Yemen, saying that the proposed division of the republic does not distribute wealth evenly.

    A panel headed by the president, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, and including representatives of Yemen's main parties, agreed the plan on Monday as part of a "national dialogue" and the country's political transition.

    The plan will be inserted into the text of a new constitution to be voted on within a year. The offer - and the Shia rejection - comes on the third anniversary of the start of the uprising against the long-time president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

    "We have rejected it because it divides Yemen into poor and wealthy" regions, Mohammed al-Bakheiti of the Shia rebel group Ansarullah told AFP on Tuesday.

    Analysis from Al Jazeera's Yemen correspondent

    The six regions agreed in the federation plan include four in the north comprising Azal, Saba, Janad and Tahama, and two in the formerly independent south, Aden and Hadramawt.

    Under the plan the northern province of Saada, bastion of Ansarullah rebels also known as Houthis, is part of the Azal region - a zone that also includes San'aa, Amran and Dhamar with no significant natural resources or access to sea.

    "Saada has stronger cultural, social and geographical links with (coastal) Hajja, and Jawf" along the Saudi borders, Bakheiti said.

    Yemen's parties had been divided on whether to split the future federation into two or six regions.

    Sanaa feared that a straight north-south divide could set the stage for the disgruntled south to secede.

    Yemen's national dialogue was stipulated by a Gulf-brokered and UN-backed roadmap that ended a year of protests against Saleh.



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