Direct Presidential elections were held in Yemen for the first time on 23 September 1999. Candidates had to be approved by at least 10% of MPs; however, in practice this meant that only two parties, the ruling General People's Congress and the Yemeni Congregation for Reform had enough seats to nominate their candidates. In the end, the Yemeni Congregation for Reform backed the GPC's candidate, incumbent President Ali Abdullah Saleh rather than running a candidate of their own.
The only candidates that received approval from Parliament were Saleh, who won with 96.3% of the vote, and Najeeb Qahtan Al-Sha'abi, a member of Saleh's own party. Parliament failed to approve the main opposition candidate, Ali Saleh Obad of the Yemeni Socialist Party, and his party boycotted the election. Official turnout was 66% of 5.6 million registered voters, a figure contested by the opposition.
Nominations for presidential candidates closed on 13 July 1999. In total, 31 candidates put their names forward, though three of them were disqualified immediately for failing to meet the legal requirements. The full list is as follows: 
Amin Ahmad bin Ahmad Thabit (candidates must not be married to a foreigner and he had a Russian wife)
Abdullah Salih Salih Muhsin Surub (minimum age is 40, he was 38)
A candidate with a name too similar to President Saleh
The parliamentary vetting committee eliminated another four candidates, putting 24 of the 31 nominations to a parliamentary vote, in which a candidate required 31 votes to be able to run in the election. Another candidate, Khalid al-Zarraka, did not appear on the publicised list of nominations, but was included in the parliamentary vote. In the vote itself, 21 of the 25 (including al-Zarraka) did not receive any support.