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Ageing Algerian president makes formal bid for new term

AFP

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the ageing independence veteran who suffered a stroke last year, has officially registered his candidacy for April’s election, a source close to the presidency said on Monday.

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Bouteflika’s registration at the Constitutional Council - a formal step for his candidacy - ended months of speculation over his intentions. But opposition leaders say they believe the president, who just turned 77 and has ruled for 17 years, is still too ill to govern.

Bouteflika, who is running for a fourth term, on Sunday called for voters to turn out in large numbers.

In a message read by Justice Minister Tayeb Louh, Bouteflika urged “all citizens to turn out in force ... to choose the person they believe is most suitable to lead the country to the next stage”.

A former prime minister who had announced plans to run in the election pulled out of the race on Monday amid growing dissent.

Ahmed Benbitour, who served as premier from 1999 to 2000, also voiced support for a boycott of the election, claiming the poll had already proved to be “piracy with legal backing”.

“Once again in Algeria, forces of fraud, have taken over... And that is why I am withdrawing from the election,” he said, referring to the government and allies of Bouteflika.

On Thursday another former premier, Mouloud Hamrouche, called for a “peaceful” change of regime in Algeria which, he said, needs democratic reforms.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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