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Bouteflika Wins Algerian Election - 2004-04-09

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has won re-election to a second five-year term in a landslide vote. His main challenger, former Prime Minister Ali Benflis, immediately rejected the results.

Authorities in Algiers said Friday that Mr. Bouteflika won more than 83 percent of the vote Thursday -- easily defeating his five challengers and assuring that no second-round vote will be necessary.

Mr. Benflis, who came in a distant second with about eight percent of the vote, denounced the election as fraudulent, but offered no evidence to back up that claim. It was not immediately clear if he would file a formal protest.

Anticipating victory, the president's supporters took to the streets of the capital late Thursday for a night of celebration.

Turnout was 59 percent. Moderate Islamist Abdallah Saad Djaballah was third with less than five percent. Other candidates were leftist Louiza Hanoune, human-rights campaigner Ali Fewza Rebaine and Berber rights activist Said Saadi.

Mr. Bouteflika is widely credited for effectively ending 12 years of civil war in Algeria. But his opponents say rampant unemployment, widespread poverty and a lack of women's rights have plagued the country under his administration.