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Fiercest Bouteflika Opponent Will Not Run in Algeria Presidential Elections

Fiercest Bouteflika Opponent Will Not Run in Algeria Presidential Elections

Saturday, 16 February, 2019 - 07:15
Algerian President Abdulaziz Bouteflika voting in local elections in 2017. (AFP)
Algiers - Boualem Goumrassa
Former Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Benbitour announced Friday that he will not run in the upcoming presidential elections because there were no indications that the “serious change” the people aspire to will be achieved.

Benbitour is among the fiercest opponents of President Abdulaziz Bouteflika’s policies. The opposition had been banking on his nomination to act as its candidate in the April 18 elections.

Bouteflika had announced on Sunday that he will seek a fifth term in office, a move that has sparked condemnation in the opposition that is hoping for new faces to run in the elections to breathe new life in the country’s political scene.

In announcing that he will not compete, Benbitour said that after assessing the situation in Algeria, he confirmed that the polls will “undoubtedly” be like their predecessors, meaning Bouteflika will emerge victorious.

The elections “will deepen the crisis” in the country, “lead it on an unknown path” and leave severe repercussions on its economy, he charged.

He accused the ruling authority of ignoring such dangers “either out of ignorance or failing to realize their significance.”

“Given this reality, the upcoming elections will not be a way to steer the country away from the dark tunnel it is headed to,” he remarked.

His decision to sit out from the polls will not deter him from “setting up a united front to preserve and save the nation from the imminent dangers.”

This front requires the efforts of all those who believe in the power for the people to introduce change.

His remarks are similar to the ones he made ahead of the 2014 elections, which he was running for. He ultimately withdrew from the race after determining that Bouteflika’s victory was “inevitable.”

Benbitour had served a prime minister in Bouteflika’s government from 1999 to 2000.

He resigned after only eight months in protest against what he described as a “parallel government” working alongside his own. He was referring to a number of pro-Bouteflika ministers who were taking economic decisions without consulting him.

His resignation marked the only time that an official steps down from his post during Bouteflika’s term in office. The president usually sacks ministers and senior officials before they have the chance to resign out of their own free will.

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