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Ali Abdullah Salem
علي عبد الله صالح

President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2005.

Assumed office 
22 May 1990
Prime Minister Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas
Muhammad Said al-Attar
Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani
Faraj Said Bin Ghanem
Abdul Karim al-Iryani
Abdul Qadir Bajamal
Ali Mohammed Mujur
Preceded by Post created

In office
18 July 1978 – 22 May 1990
Prime Minister Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani
Abdul Karim al-Iryani
Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani
Preceded by Abdul Karim Abdullah al-Arashi
Succeeded by Post abolished

Born 21 March 1942 (1942-03-21) (age 67)
Nationality Yemeni
Political party GPC
Religion Islam

Field Marshal Ali Abdullah Saleh (Arabic: علي عبد الله صالح‎), born March 21, 1942, is the current President of Yemen. He was President of the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) from 1978 to 1990 and became president of the newly united Republic of Yemen in 1990.[1]

Saleh is a Zaydi Muslim, which is commonly referred to as a "Fiver" school of Shia Islam. However, Saleh's Zaydi "identity is one of culture and tradition rather than political allegiance" as he is a "non-Hashimi" Zaydi, or not a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, and Saleh would not have been eligible to rule under the Zaydi Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen that ruled the country until 1962.[2]

Saleh initially took power as a dictator of North Yemen in 1977 after serving as a lieutenant colonel in the army. Yemen's previous president, Ibrahim al-Hamdi had been assassinated, and some suspected that Saleh may have played a role in the plot.[3] The decline of the Soviet Union severely weakened the status of South Yemen, and, in 1990 the North and South agreed to unify after years of negotiations. The South accepted Saleh as Head of State of the unified country while Ali Salim al-Beidh served as Head of Government.[3]

Saleh was Yemen's first directly elected president in 1999, winning 91.2% of the vote. The only other candidate, Najib Qahtan al-Shaabi, is the son of a former President of South Yemen and a member of Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) party. However, Qahtan ran as an independent.[4]

After the 1999 elections the Parliament passed a law extending presidential terms from five to seven years, parliamentary terms from four to six years, and creating a 111-member, presidentially appointed council of advisors with legislative power. This move prompted the non-profit organization Freedom House to downgrade their rating of political freedom in Yemen from 5 to 6.[5]

Saleh announced in July 2002, during the 24th anniversary celebrations of his term in office as President of Yemen, that he would "not contest the (presidential) elections" in September 2002. He expressed hope that "all political parties - including the opposition and the General People's Congress - find young leaders to compete in the elections because we have to train ourselves in the practice of peaceful succession." [6] However, in June 2006 Saleh changed his mind and accepted his party's nomination as the presidential candidate of the GPC, saying that when he initially decided not to contest the elections his aim was "to establish ground for a peaceful transfer of power" but that he was now bowing to the "popular pressure and appeals of the Yemeni people." Political analyst Ali Saif Hasan said he had been "sure [President Saleh] would run as a presidential candidate. His announcement in July 2005 – that he wouldn’t run – was exceptional and unusual." Mohammed al-Rubai, head of the opposition supreme council, said the president's decision "shows that the president wasn’t serious in his earlier decision. I wish he hadn’t initially announced that he would step down. There was no need for such farce."[4]

In the 2006 presidential election, held on September 20, Saleh won with 77.2% of the vote. His main rival, Faisal bin Shamlan, received 21.8%.[7] Saleh was sworn in for another term on September 27.[8]

In December 2005, Saleh stated in a nationally-televised broadcast that only his personal intervention had preempted a U.S. occupation of the southern port of Aden after the 2000 USS Cole Bombing, stating "By chance, I happened to be down there. If I hadn’t been, Aden would have been occupied as there were eight U.S. warships at the entrance to the port."[9] However, transcripts from the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee state that no other warships were in the vicinity at the time.[10]


  1. ^ Dresch, Paul (2000). A History of Modern Yemen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 184. ISBN 0-521-79482-X. 
  2. ^ "The Sixth War", The National, November 12, 2009
  3. ^ a b Burrowes, Robert D. The Yemen Arab Republic: The Politics of Development, 1962-1986. Westview Press, USA. 1987
  4. ^ a b In eleventh-hour reversal, President Saleh announces candidacy, IRIN News
  5. ^ Freedom in the World - Yemen (2002) Freedom House
  6. ^ Yemen leader rules himself out of polls Al Jazeera
  7. ^ "Saleh re-elected president of Yemen",, September 23, 2006.
  8. ^ "Yemeni president takes constitutional oath for his new term", Xinhua, September 27, 2006.
  9. ^ "US mulled occupying Aden after Cole bombing: Yemen", Khaleej Times, December 1, 2005.
  10. ^ "The USS Cole and the US Plan to Invade Aden", Armies of Liberation, December 1, 2005.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Abdul Karim Abdullah al-Arashi
President of North Yemen
1978 – 1990
Succeeded by
Post abolished
Preceded by
Post created
President of Yemen


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Abdullah Saleh meets George W. Bush in 2007.

Ali Abdullah Saleh ((born March 21, 1942) has been the president of Yemen since 1990.


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