Five candidates running to replace ousted Algerian president Bouteflika
Algiers (AFP) –
Five candidates, including two former prime ministers, will run to replace ousted Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the country's election authority said Saturday, amid widespread protests against the vote.
A total of 23 candidates had submitted their papers to run and five were approved, head of the election authority Mohamed Charfi told reporters in Algiers.
The list will be passed to the constitutional council for final validation.
Former premiers Ali Benflis and Abdelmadjid Tebboune are considered front-runners in an election opposed by the mass protest movement that alongside the army forced Bouteflika to resign in April after 20 years in power.
The other candidates are Azzedine Mihoubi, leader of the Democratic National Rally party (RND) that was part of Bouteflika's ruling coalition, former tourism minister Abdelkader Bengrina and Abdelaziz Belaid, head of the Front El-Moustakbel party.
Activists are demanding sweeping reforms in the oil-rich country before any vote takes place, and say Bouteflika-era figures still in power must not use the presidential poll to appoint his successor.
Instead of waning when the ageing president stepped down, the protest movement turned its focus on the whole regime, amping up calls for an overhaul of the political system in place since 1962.
Polls planned for July 4 were postponed due to a lack of viable candidates, plunging the country into a constitutional crisis, as interim president Abdelkader Bensalah's mandate expired that month.
Despite fierce opposition from the streets, authorities have been pushing forward with presidential elections set for December 12. Observers are predicting a weak turnout.
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