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Exiled Yemen Vice President Returns to War-Torn Aden

  • VOA News

Yemen's Vice President Khaled Bahah, center, talks to reporters upon his arrival at Aden airport, August 1, 2015.

Yemen's Vice President Khaled Bahah, center, talks to reporters upon his arrival at Aden airport, August 1, 2015.

Yemen's exiled prime minister Khaled Bahah made a brief but important visit to the newly-liberated southern city of Aden Saturday.

Bahah was scheduled to chair a Cabinet meeting Saturday with seven government ministers in Aden, a Yemeni official told The Associated Press.

He flew to Aden from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where the Yemeni government had been based since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled a Houthi advance on Aden in March.

Recognized government

Bahah, who is also prime minister of the internationally recognized government, was followed by several more officials, whose task will be to restore normality and public services to a city battered by four months of combat.

Impoverished Yemen has been rocked by fighting between the Houthi rebels and Hadi loyalists, who have received air support from a Saudi-led coalition.

The United Nations said the war has killed nearly 4,000 people, half of them civilians, while 80 percent of Yemen's population of 21 million is in need of aid and protection.

Since the Hadi government fled in March, hundreds have been killed in fierce clashes between pro-Hadi fighters, backed by air strikes from a Saudi-led Arab alliance, and the Houthis, who have struck an alliance with supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Pro-government fighters

Bahah's visit became possible after fighters from the southern Popular Resistance drove the Houthis out of Aden two weeks ago, a major setback for the group which has been on the offensive since seizing control of the capital, Sana'a, last September.

Bahah told journalists at Aden airport that his trip was "part of the liberation of Aden and part of the normalization of life in it," according to al-Arabiya television's website.

There were conflicting reports on the duration of Bahah's visit.

Sources close to him said he planned to return to Saudi Arabia in the evening, but his government's sabanews.net news agency suggested he would remain in the city.

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