News / Africa

    Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

    President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, sitting on a wheelchair, prepares to vote in the presidential elections in Algiers, Thursday, April 17, 2014.
    President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, sitting on a wheelchair, prepares to vote in the presidential elections in Algiers, Thursday, April 17, 2014.
    Edward Yeranian
    Algerians went to the polls to decide who will govern the country for the next five years, as ailing President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika seeks a fourth term. He faces strong opposition from former Prime Minister Ali Benflis.
     
    Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
     
    • Bouteflika, 77, suffered a stroke last year
    • He is widely expected to win a fourth term
    • In 2009, he captured about 90 percent of the vote
    • In 2008, he amended constitution to allow for unlimited re-election of sitting presidents
    • He's backed by the ruling National Liberation Front Party
    • He took power in 1999, near the end of a civil war
    Bouteflika cast his vote from a wheelchair as journalists and well-wishers looked on. The president smiled, but said little, clutching the hand of a young nephew who walked alongside him.

    A group of women ululated to salute Bouteflika, as he greeted his supporters outside the polling station. Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke last year, appeared alert, but weak.

    Interior Minister Taieb Belaiz read out voter participation figures from various cities, stressing that voting is taking place without any major glitches at 50,000 polling stations across the country.

    There were a few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but there did not appear to be significant violence.

    The leading opposition candidate, former prime minister Ali Benflis, spoke with journalists after voting.  Benflis said he hopes to rejuvenate the country if he is elected, but warned there could be trouble if there is cheating during the vote count. He added however, that he opposes any violence.

    State television announcers reported that voter turnout was heavy, although video from relatively empty polling stations seem to contradict them. Interior Minister Belaiz noted that by mid-morning about nine percent of the country's 20 million eligible voters had been to the polls.

    One elderly lady shouted “long live Algeria” as she voted, in an expression of optimism.

    A young man who went to vote with his daughter said he was voting for the future of Algeria and that he hoped the election would help the people.

    Six candidates, including former Prime Minister Ali Benflis, are competing to be the country's president for the next five years. Incumbent President Bouteflika has held the office since 1999. He was Algeria's youngest foreign minister and is the last of a generation of leaders who came to power after independence from France in 1962.

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    Comments
         
    by: nehad ismail from: London UK
    April 22, 2014 9:38 AM
    Despite being frail and infirm, the three-term President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been wheeled into the voting booth looking weak and exhausted. Obviously the man is not physically fit, which does not necessarily mean he is mentally unfit. The question is, after three terms of mediocre presidency what he expects to achieve in the fourth term except wait for death or retirement? Most observers believe that the military are the real rulers of Algeria and Bouteflika remains a figurehead just to sign papers and decrees.

    I would suggest that the Algerian Constitution is amended to permit the skeletons, the embalmed and the semi-dead to nominate themselves for the presidential elections with a cabinet composed of geriatrics to run the place.
    As it happened Bouteflika has won a fourth term but Algeria has lost.

    by: MAIGA Sidi Mohamed from: Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria
    April 17, 2014 1:21 PM
    In my opinion the incumbent president is very patriotic .Though he is ailing, he is still motivated to serve his beautiful and prosperous country. Stability is all what that country needs within the next 15 or 20 years to really make huge positives changes. It's populated with very smart people.they learn easily ...
    In Response

    by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
    April 18, 2014 12:32 AM
    Old and ailing leaders in Africa have to get time off for retirement and allow new generations to lead the country to stability and economic growth.
    Unlimited re-election for any incumbent president is no longer viable in this 21st century.

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