Yemen Government and Politics

State and politics

Yemen Country Flag

Reference: Yemen Flag Meaning


According to the 1991 Constitution (with amendments 1994 and 2001), Yemen is an Arab and Islamic republic, Islam is state religion and Arabic is the official language. According to, the head of state is the president, who is elected in direct elections for a term of seven years and can be re-elected once. The president is also commander-in-chief and appoints himself the vice-president and the entire government (following proposals from the prime ministerial candidate).

Parliament’s lower house, Majlis an-nuwab, consists of 301 members elected in general elections for six years. The members of the upper house, majlis ash-shura, are appointed by the president. According to the 1994 constitutional amendment, the Islamic law of sharia is the only basis for the legislation. The first parliamentary election after the country’s unification was held in 1993.

Only about 30 percent of the approximately 5,000 candidates were affiliated with political parties, with the rest standing as independent. GPC GPs won 123 seats. Islah, an association of conservative clan leaders and Islamic fundamentalists, received 62 seats. Yemen’s socialist party, YSP, received 56 seats. In later elections, GPC’s dominance has been strengthened and opposition parties have declined.

Since 2016, Yemen has been missing a functioning parliament due to the ongoing conflict in the country. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of YE and its meanings of Yemen.


After the 1994 civil war, Parliament confirmed President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s power holdings for a five-year term. He was re-elected in 1999 and again in 2006. Many members of the socialist YSP were imprisoned after the civil war. The war meant that democratic development in the country stopped.

Freedom of the press for broadcasting and human rights was exempted. Discontent in the former South Yemen increased during the 1990s and the regime was put under strong pressure by a united opposition front. In spring 2011, mass protests began against Saleh’s regime.

After unsuccessful attempts to violate the protests, Saleh was forced to resign in November 2011, nine months after the demonstrations began. Formally, Saleh resigned in February 2012, when former Vice President Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi took over after winning an election without counter-candidates.

After the change of power, separatist tensions rose further in the country. In the south, al-Qaeda strengthened its positions and in the north, the Shiite Muslim Shire rulers gradually took over power by force. Several attacks carried out by the al-Qaeda terrorist network in the Arabian Peninsula have led the US to increase its military presence in Yemen, and several drone attacks have been carried out against targets of al-Qaeda. Check Countryaah for other countries that start with Y.

Following a lengthy dialogue conference in 2013, it was decided on guidelines for a new constitution that would give increased autonomy to the different regions. Yemen was proposed to be a federal state consisting of six regions. This did not appease the separatists, who continued to demand al-Hadi’s departure.

In the fall of 2014, the Huthira rebels besieged Sana, and in January 2015, they managed to enter the presidential palace and force al-Hadi and the government to resign. The Huthirebels then appointed their own presidential council based in Sana to govern the country. Parliament was dissolved and a so-called revolutionary transition council was set up. Shortly thereafter, al-Hadi withdrew its resignation, which won support from the country’s military and population as well as Saudi Arabia.

Tensions in the country have escalated since the conflict between al-Hadi’s critics and his supporters has worsened, and Yemen has since been divided into the territory controlled by the huhirebels and other areas where different tribes and groups rule. In these areas, the influence varies between representatives who are more or less loyal to al-Hadi. The conflict is further complicated by the large groups in southern Yemen fighting for the restoration of an independent South Yemen.

There are 2018 war permits in Yemen and parliamentary work is non-existent. Local and regional authorities also lack opportunities to carry out their normal tasks. Resources are lacking and it is impossible to hold any elections in Yemen during the current state. The country is in political limbo.


The legal system in Yemen is based mainly on Islamic law, sharia, to which comes local customary law and some modern legislation, such as a civil law from 1992. The death penalty is punished for some serious crimes.

Human Rights

Respect for human rights is critically low in Yemen. The government is unable to control either rival tribes, widespread lawlessness, the establishment of terrorist cells or the extreme poverty that characterizes the everyday lives of the residents. Contradictions between past warriors during the civil war that characterized the country (see History) are a nationwide problem in the form of conflicts and demonstrations.

Like many other countries in the Middle East, Yemen was also hit by violent confrontations between government forces and civilians during the Arab Spring as months of bloody fighting took place.

According to Human Rights Watch, extra-judicial executions and arbitrary detention occur both from government teams and from rebel groups, and the judiciary is characterized by corruption.

Torture is prohibited by law but is common, both in the country’s prisons and in connection with arrests and interrogation of suspects. State officials are immune to prosecution.

Although the Constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and association, there are reports that the government’s security forces have on several occasions used violence against peaceful protesters. Many are arrested without notice of criminal suspicion and subjected to torture during their detention.

Women are extremely vulnerable. The Global Gender Gap Report, which examines equality between men and women in the countries of the world (2013) places Yemen in last place for the eighth consecutive year and the national interpretation of religious Sharia law contributes to the discrimination. Forced marriage of girls in the lower teens is commonplace and girls and women are under guardianship. Women incarcerated can only be released if a male guardian accepts this. When women’s prison stay is traditionally stigmatized, it usually leads to women remaining in prison. Genital mutilation is a widespread phenomenon, although prohibited by law. Honor-related crimes are not punishable, nor are rapes within the marriage.

Freedom of expression and press are guaranteed in the Yemen’s constitution, but national legislation prohibits criticism of the head of state and the publication of material that is considered immoral. There are reports showing violence against and murder of journalists who have broken the decree or who have reported demonstrations against the government. Reporters Without Borders places Yemen in place 168 out of 180 countries in this year’s Press Freedom Index (2015).

Yemen has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but its application has been neglected. Child soldiers occur among both government forces and rebels and child labor is common, the latter mainly in rural areas. For this, children are at risk of sexual abuse and trafficking. Reports show that one in three children suffers from chronic malnutrition.

The death penalty can be punished for homosexual acts, conversion from Islam and serious violent crimes.

Heads of State

Northern Yemen (1962-90)

1962-67 Abd Allah Sallal
1967-74 Abd ar-Rahman al-Iryani
1974-77 Ibrahim Hamdi
1977-78 Ahmad Ghashmi
1978-90 Ali Abdullah Saleh

South Yemen (1967-90)

1967-69 Qahtan ash-Shabi
1969-78 Salim Rubay Ali
1978 Ali Nasir Muhammad
1978-80 Abd al-Fattah Ismail
1980-86 Ali Nasir Muhammad
1986-90 Haydar Abu Bakr al-Attas


1990-2012 Ali Abdullah Saleh
2012- Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi

Yemen Head of Government

You may also like...