[QODLink]
Africa

Ex-PM to run for Algeria presidency

Benflis, who lost a presidential vote to Bouteflika in 2004, vows to root out corruption and empower youth.

Last updated: 20 Jan 2014 08:26
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Former Algerian prime minister, Ali Benflis, has announced his candidacy for April's presidential election, the only bid so far that can reap enough support if incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika decides not to join the race.

Benflis, 70, who lost a presidential vote to Bouteflika in 2004, announced his presidential candidacy on Sunday in which he pledged to make combating corruption and youth empowerment his government's key goals.

Algeria, the OPEC-member whose population of 38 million has avoided the region's political turmoil brought on by the 2011 Arab Spring, has opened campaigning last week.

Ali Benflis, a former leader of Algeria's ruling FLN party, made his announcement at a hotel in Algiers where he hit out at a series of corruption scandals that have stained the ongoing government, and have involved officials seen as Bouteflika's close allies, including former energy minister.

"The problem is not just administrative corruption, but also political corruption, the one that guarantees impunity," he told reporters. "This country of youngsters should put its destiny in the hands of its youth."

Bouteflika, 76, has reigned for three five-year terms and has not yet confirmed plans to seek a fourth. He returned from a trip to Paris last week where he conducted a number of check-ups following a stroke early last year, and critics say he is too ill to join the race.

However, Bouteflika's candidacy, if confirmed, would wipe out Benflis' chances of garnering enough votes to presidency, as he is backed by ruling parties, unions and other key groupings.

Bouteflika's inner circles say he is the best guarantor of security and stability in Algeria, and that they are confident he will go for another five years.

Since independence from France in 1962, analysts say Algeria has been governed from behind the scenes by a cadre of older-generation FLN party chiefs and military veterans known as the "Le Pouvoir" or "The Power".

Analysts say any transition is likely to be steady, with the "Pouvoir" keeping its power struggles under wraps and avoiding any turmoil that might threaten vested interests.

Despite its huge oil wealth, Algeria's economy needs reforms and liberalisation to attract more foreign investment after years of centralised state control and bureaucracy.

While most of its leaders belong to the generation that fought France from 1954 to 1962, statistics show that 70 percent of the population of 38 million are under 30.

394

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Study says tipping point reached as poachers kill 7 percent of African elephants annually; birth rate is 5 percent.
Zimbabwe's leader given rotating chairmanship of 15-member nation bloc a year after he won disputed presidential polls.
Government regulations and security fears are choking the once thriving industry in India-administered Kashmir.
Is fast-track deportation for 60,000 migrant children from Latin America obstructing due process?
Feminist Initiative is fiercely campaigning to enter Sweden's parliament after the September elections.
join our mailing list