A Maverick, But … He Is a Presidential Candidate! [Archives:1999/19/Law & Diplomacy]

May 10 1999

Ali Bin Ali Subaihi says he will compete in the presidential race against President Saleh.
Thus, Mr. Subaihi has become the first nominee to knock at the door of the presidency, which will be officially open in June.
Ridwhan Al-Saqqaf of Yemen Times spoke to him. Excerpts:
Q: Could you please tell us about yourself?
A: My name is Ali Bin Ali Al-Subaihi. I was born in 1952 in Moodiyah, Toor Al-Baha district, Lahj (not to be confused with Moodiyah in Abyan). I received my elementary education in my birthplace in Moodiyah up to 1960. Then I moved to Al-Waht to pursue my studies at Al-Waht Preparatory School. That was during the Sultan’s Regime.
In 1969, I joined the teaching profession and I was an active member in a number of cooperatives. Later, I went on a scholarship to Bulgaria to study Agriculture. On my return to Aden, I founded the Yemeni Farmers Union in what was then South Yemen.
I was appointed Secretary of Culture and Information and Chairman of the Inspection Committee. The military coup of 1978 which ended with the death of former President Salem Rubaya Ali disrupted the growth of my career, because I was taught to be pro-Salem. So, I was fired and put in jail for 3 years. When I was released, I was appointed to a minor job that did not fit my educational abilities or previous work experience.
Now, I work with the Public Corporation for Construction Material as the General Director of Distribution.
Q: Your political affiliation?
A: I belong to no political party.
Q: Any honors?
A: I am very proud that I was conferred a badge of honor as a freedom fighter against colonial presence in South Yemen.
Q: How did the idea of your candidature to the presidency come up in the first place?
A: I was encouraged by the country’s constitution which gives the right to any eligible citizen to come up and announce his candidature.
It is just as simple as that.
Q: Have you ever contested in any elections before?
A: Yes, I did. In 1993 and 1997, I competed in the parliamentary elections. It was a very tough contest. That is why I failed in both occasions.
Q: How do you plan to finance your campaign?
A: I did not work that out yet, but something will give!
Q: Yes, but you realize it costs a lot of money to compete?
A: I am an independent contestant. I hope to get support from political parties and prominent national and social personalities.
Q: What do you think your chances of winning are?
A: Well, first I will try to get the required nomination (from parliament). That should be easy and possible.
The rest is in the hand of the Yemeni people. The people Yemen will exercise their right in choosing the best candidate. To stand for the presidential elections is a personal decision.
Q: Tell us about your campaign agenda?
A: I will concentrate on health, education and agriculture . These are the essential issues.
Q: Any last comments?
A: I would like to say that competing in the elections is a great experience. Thanks to God and to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who established the foundation of our democracy.