The Yemeni state and government

In Yemen, the state is a weak institution. Central government exerts little authority over large parts of the country. Tribes hold considerable power and customary tribal law ('urf) is often respected more than state law.

Nevertheless, Ali Abdullah Saleh managed to survive as president for almost 34 years – an achievement which he famously described as "like dancing on the heads of snakes".


Role of the state in a traditional society
A speech by Dr Abd al-Karim al-Iryani, Prime Minister of Yemen, April 1998

Yemen, the tribe and the state
by Elham M. Manea

Yemen and stability in the Persian Gulf  
by Stephen C. Pelletiere, US Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, May 1996

Legal framework

Draft constitution, 2015 
(Not in force; unofficial translation)

Constitution of Yemen
As amended in 2001

Proposed amendments to constitution, August 2000

Constitution of Yemen, as amended in 1994
As amended in 1994

Constitution of the Republic of Yemen, 1990

Constitution of the Yemen Arab Republic, 1970

Law No 27 (1996) Concerning General Elections

Law No 41 (1992) Concerning General Elections

Law No 66 (1991) Concerning Parties and Political Organisations

Law No 25 (1990) Concerning the Press and Publications


President Hadi: a man in the shadows
Blog post by Brian Whitaker, 24 March 2013

Ali Abdullah Salih: a biographical note  

'President Saleh Website'  
Official website


Current government ministers (CIA)

Yemeni governments of the 1990s

Members of the Consultative Council (2001- )

Members of the Consultative Council (1997-2001)

"Democratic Republic of Yemen" (1994)

Administrative divisions

Following unification in 1990, Yemen consisted of 18 governorates (or provinces) – twelve from the former Yemen Arab Republic in the north and six from the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (south and east):

Northern provinces 
Sana'a (city)
Sana'a (province)
Southern provinces    

Click to enlarge map

In 2014 there were moves to create a federal state by grouping these provinces into six federal regions (see map above, from the Yemen Times). The plan seems to have been a response, at least in part, to separatist agitation in the south calling for the country to be re-divided into two states.

Yemen celebrates new map of six regions 
Yemen Times, 11 February 2014

United States of Yemen 
Is federalism the solution or just a diversion? Blog post by Brian Whitaker, 13 February 2014