Because of illness, al-Ahmar had been unable to perform his role as speaker for more than a year. He spent much of his time in Saudi Arabia receiving treatment.


Born in 1933, he had been an instrumental figure among the leaders who brought down the monarchy in 1962.


Al-Ahmar took part in elections through his Islah party, which combines tribal and Islamic elements, following the unification of northern Yemen with the communist south of the country in 1990 after years of conflict.