Yemeni government makes permanent return to Aden

Prime minister Ahmed Obaid Bin Dagher arrives with nine ministers and four deputy ministers in a move ordered by president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.

Yemen’s prime minister, Ahmed Obaid Bin Dagher disembarks from a plane at Aden airport on June 6, 2016. Saleh Al Obeidi / AFP
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Aden // Fourteen members of Yemen’s government arrived in Aden on Monday in what prime minister Ahmed Obaid Bin Dagher said was a permanent return after more than a year in exile because of the country’s civil war.

Mr Bin Dagher, who was accompanied by nine ministers and four deputy ministers, said the move was ordered by president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.

Mr Hadi and his government took refuge in Aden last year after escaping from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who seized the capital Sanaa in September 2104. They were forced to flee to Saudi Arabia after the rebels advanced on the southern port city in March last year, triggering an intervention by a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the UAE.

Mr Bin Dagher said the government would begin its work by addressing problems such as shortages of electricity and fuel in Aden.

"More ministers will be arriving in Aden soon," government spokesman Rageh Badi told The National. He said some were attending the UN-mediated peace talks being held in Kuwait.

Mr Badi said a meeting of the full cabinet would be held soon to discuss restoring services in Aden as well other provinces retaken from the rebels, as well as the security situation.

This is the first time Mr Bin Dagher has returned to Aden since he was appointed prime minister on April 3. He was met at the airport by the Aden governor Aidarous Al Zabidi and the police chief, Brig Gen Shallal Shaei.

His predecessor, Khalid Bahah, and other ministers have visited Aden several times since the city was retaken from the rebels last June by Yemeni and coalition forces, but did not shift their base from Riyadh.

Hours before Mr Bin Dagher arrived, guards repulsed an attack on the airport in Khormaksar district.

"Gunmen attacked the guards at 1am, but soldiers from the Sheik Zaed brigade forced them to flee," a security source told The National.

He said an Apache helicopter provided air cover during the operation and there were no casualties.

“The purpose of the attack was to create chaos to keep the airport closed”, the source said, adding that it was not carried out by extremist groups.

Both Al Qaeda and ISIL have claimed a number of attacks in Aden since the city was liberated last year.

The security source cited the transportation minister, who arrived with Mr Bin Dagher, as saying Aden’s airport would reopen fully from the next week.