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Algeria: Bouteflika’s Supporters Set Stage for Presidential Campaign

Algeria: Bouteflika’s Supporters Set Stage for Presidential Campaign

Thursday, 31 January, 2019 - 08:30
Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika arrives to cast his ballot during the presidential election in Algiers April 17, 2014. (File Photo: Reuters)
Algiers - Boualem Goumrassa
Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) has launched a campaign to collect 60,000 signatures in line with the electoral law to announce the candidacy of the party's leader President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for the April 18 elections.

FLN member Mouad Bouchareb is seeking to swiftly collect the signatures of party members, who are estimated to be in the tens of thousands, as well as 600 members of parliament and state and municipal councils, one of two options given by the law to those wishing to run for the presidential elections.

Observers believe that the swift collection of the signatures is an indication that Bouteflika wants to stand for a fifth term.

The Democratic National Alliance, led by Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, will hold its National Assembly Thursday to discuss the nomination of the President.

The Alliance’s spokesman, Shehab Siddiq, indicated that the issue has been settled for months, and the party appealed to the President to run for another term because it believes the country still needs him in his position.

He told Asharq al-Awsat that the Alliance would launch the electoral campaign once the President announces his candidacy.

The Algerian Popular Movement (MPA), led by former Minister of Commerce Amara Benyounes, will also convene its National Assembly on Friday.

This party is a staunch supporter of Bouteflika. However, unlike the rest of pro-government parties, Benyounes refused to discuss the President’s possible candidacy for a fifth term, as long as Bouteflika hasn’t announced it yet.

Party sources indicated that the National Assembly meeting will conclude by recommending the President to run for elections.

In 2014, FLN loyalist parties, began campaigning for the President’s fourth mandate two months prior to the elections, with the same state of anticipation regarding Bouteflika’s willingness to remain in his position.

Since 2013, the President has been on a wheelchair and unable to speak. However, it seems that his health conditions are not an issue for his supporters.

On the other hand, retired Major General Ali Ghadiri is showing great determination to compete with Bouteflika, taking advantage of the support of a large number of intellectuals, media professionals and former military personnel who meet him regularly.

Ghadiri chose renowned lawyer Muqrin Ait El-Arabi as his campaign manager. Playwright and journalist Ayashi Ahmeda was tasked with campaigning for him in the media inside and outside the country.

Earlier this month, the retired commander appealed to Army Chief of Staff Gaid Salah to run against Bouteflika.

Saleh responded by threatening to revoke Ghadiri’s military rank, expressing strong loyalty to the President.

Political Science Professor Mohammad Hanad explained that Ghadiri hinted that the military is still in power, and chooses the president, protects and supports him, even if the leadership of the armed forces says its impartial.

He pointed out that since Algeria’s independence, the military leadership has strong political decision-making and the Algerian public considers the army the country’s de facto ruler.

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