Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Web users pay tribute to Boris Nemtsov

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French local elections: April 21st all over again?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Nemtsov murder: 'Calculated political violence'

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Paul Kagame visits UNESCO HQ in Paris

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Samsung hopes to win back lost ground with new phones

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Flamboyant US Congressman's Instagram lands him in bother

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Compromise buys Greece time and Jihadi John is unmasked (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Compromise buys Greece time and Jihadi John is unmasked (part 1)

Read more

WEB NEWS

Venezuelan president accused of murdering students

Read more

Africa

Bouteflika to seek third presidential term

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by Tahar HANI

Latest update : 2009-02-13

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has announced he will be running for a third term in office when the country goes to the polls in early April. Several opposition members have already said they will boycott the election.

Outgoing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced he would run for a third term on Thursday.

The declaration was made in a sports arena in the suburbs west of Algiers. Some 5,000 guests – including government members, trade unionists and supporters – attended the president’s address.

Bouteflika took three commitments, including that of pushing further his national reconciliation policy. “I commit to continuing to promote national reconciliation (…) by reconciling Algerians with each other and with their country,” he said, while adding that he would “continue to fight terrorism by all necessary means.”

Algeria’s long-serving president also promised to further develop the country’s economy and announced a new five-year stimulus plan worth 150 billion dollars.

FRANCE 24 spoke to Rafik Hassani, an MP for the opposition Movement for Culture and Democracy (RCD). For him, Bouteflika’s announcement is a non-event: “This is yet another coup after the Nov. 12 attack on the constitution. The president has changed the rules of the game. He personifies the system that brought ruin upon this country. Yet, despite his poor record after two terms, he has the nerve to run again.”

Since a Nov. 2008 constitutional amendment got rid of a cap on the number of successive presidential mandates, Bouteflika can now seek a new five-year term.

Voter turnout at stake

According to Hassani, all bets are closed and Bouteflika will indeed be re-elected on April 9. He fears his re-election may once again plunge the country into chaos. “How could a regime that failed to take advantage of a billion-dollar windfall to help the economy possibly catch up on the time lost over the past decade?” he asks.

According to Fayçal Métaoui, a journalist working with the French-speaking newspaper “El Watan”, the only serious stake is voter turnout. He says the Algerian regime, fearing a boycott, has asked imams to urge people to get out and vote on April 9. “The 2009 election is a done deal,” says Métaoui. “Bouteflika enjoys the full backing of the state’s electoral machine. He was already elected the minute he announced his intention to run.”

Ferhat Mehenni, head of the opposition Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (MAK), is adamant people in his region will boycott the election. Bouteflika didn’t change the constitution for nothing, he adds. “Already in the 2004 presidential election, when Bouteflika fielded a host of candidates that were more or less serious, the vote turned out to be a joke. What will happen this time, with candidates like Louisa Hanoun [head of the Workers’ Party], who are merely puppets?”

Bouteflika, 71, is in poor health. He underwent a kidney operation in the US in 1985. Years later, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and has been on dialysis since his election in 1999.

Presidential candidates have until Feb. 23 to make themselves known. Several opposition leaders have already announced they will boycott the ballot.

  

Date created : 2009-02-12

COMMENT(S)