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Yemen's prime minister returns to Aden under deal with separatists

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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Yemeni Prime Minister Moeen Abdulmalik delivers a speech during the opening day of the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council on February 25th in Geneva. [Fabrice Coffrini/AFP]

Yemen's prime minister on Monday (November 18th) flew back to the southern city of Aden under the terms of a peace deal with southern separatists who expelled the government from its provisional capital in August.

The return from Riyadh of Prime Minister Moeen Abdulmalik and four other ministers, initially planned for last week but delayed for logistical reasons, follows the November deal with separatists who had chased the government out of the port city, AFP reported.

Fighters of the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) last August seized control of Aden, which had become the seat of government after it was driven out of Sanaa in 2014 by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah).

The STC and the government, which are technically allies in the fight against the Houthis, inked a power-sharing deal in Riyadh on November 5th under Saudi mediation.

As well as heralding the government's return to Aden, it laid the foundation for forming a new 24-member cabinet with equal representation for southerners, including the STC.

Yemen's President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi has lived in Riyadh since Sanaa fell to the Houthis.

Payment of salaries

Upon his return, Abdulmalik is expected to sign checks for salaries that have been suspended for months and try to alleviate the residents' suffering due to dire economic conditions, deputy Aden governor Ghassan al-Zamki told Al-Mashareq.

The prime minister's return will "pave the way for the full return of the government", Yemen's deputy minister of human rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez told Al-Mashareq.

Abdulmalik will work on putting things in order at the government headquarters at Maashiq Palace -- which was fully looted -- and other ministerial offices, he said.

Al-Kasr Hotel in al-Buraiqeh district will host the prime minister on a temporary basis until Maashiq Palace is rehabilitated and ready to welcome members of the government again, he said.

Things are moving slowly on the ground because of the security, technical and logistical challenges that remain to ensure the full return of the government and resumption of its work from Aden, political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.

Ahmed called on Saudi Arabia to intervene to make sure all provisions of the Riyadh agreement are fully respected by all sides, including the appointment of a new governor and security chief in Aden by November 20th.

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