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Algerian Presidential Candidate to Asharq Al-Awsat: I Am Determined to Create a Miracle

Algerian Presidential Candidate to Asharq Al-Awsat: I Am Determined to Create a Miracle

Saturday, 2 February, 2019 - 08:00
A general view of Algiers. (AFP)
Algiers - Boualem Goumrassa
Algerian retired general and presidential hopeful Ali Ghediri dismissed predictions that he is in for a resounding defeat should incumbent President Abdulaziz Bouteflika run for reelection in the upcoming April polls.

He instead told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was determined to create a “miracle” in the elections and that he was ready to compete against Bouteflika or any candidate chosen by the ruling regime.

“I have great trust in the people. I am one of them and I derive my strength from the leaders of the revolution 65 years ago,” said Ghediri, 64, who retired from the military in 2015.

Asked to assess Bouteflika’s years in power, he said that Algeria had reached its peak under the rule of President Houari Boumédiène (1965-78).

“Since then, everything has been going from bad to worse despite the availability of great potential to revive the economy…. We were hoping for the better, but we have been disappointed,” Ghediri added.

He remarked that Algeria was currently lacking influential politicians who could make a change.

The country needs administrative restructuring and reforms. The chaos state institutions are experiencing has made them weak and “we are now witnessing a lack of trust between the president and people,” he noted.

One development that contributed to this lack of trust was the 2008 constitutional amendment that annulled an article that barred the president from running for more than two terms in office, he explained.

“Had society taken a stand against the move, we would not have reached the situation where we are now,” Ghediri stressed.

Such an amendment paved the way for Bouteflika to run for president for life.

“I, alongside other military officials and civilians, were helpless to change the situation. We stood by as Bouteflika ran for a third term in office in 2009 in a move that was barred by the constitution. In fact, I had opposed Bouteflika’s run for president the first time back in 1999,” he revealed.

Commenting on criticism that he does not come from a political background that qualifies him for running for president, he asked: “Do any of the ministers enjoy such a rich political history?”

“Many figures in Algeria are now at the top of state institutions even though they come from nothing and this has not bothered anyone. But there is uproar when an officer with 42 years experience in the military announces that he wants to run for president,” he stated.

Asked if he has supporters from within the military, he responded: “The constitution bars the military from becoming involved in politics. I am certain, however, that some figures support me and others don’t.”

His last remark references Chief of Staff Ahmed Gaid Salah, who has criticized Ghediri for calling against Bouteflika to run for a fifth term in office.

Salah has come so far as to threaten to strip Ghediri of his military rank.

Commenting on this threat, Ghediri told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I am a citizen who is practicing his constitutional right..”

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