Boutaflika to stand for second term

Algerian President Abd al-Aziz Boutaflika, who has been unofficially on the campaign trail for weeks, will stand for a second term in an election to be held in April.

    Boutaflika took more than 70% of the vote in the last election

    He would publicly announce his candidacy, which has been widely expected, in a ceremony on Sunday in an Algiers hotel, officials organising the event told reporters on Wednesday. 

    Boutaflika took more than 70% of the vote in the last election in 1999, when his six opposing candidates withdrew on the eve of the poll citing electoral fraud. 

    His chances of winning a second term in the election on 8 April were boosted on Monday when three parties in the governing coalition signed a pact to back his re-election. 

    Over the past few months, Boutaflika has been making visits to the provinces of the large oil-rich north African country, garnering blanket coverage and comment on the single state television channel. 

    'Fraud'

    His opponents, who have formed a "front against fraud" against Boutaflika, have accused the president of taking advantage of public television and exploiting state resources in the run-up to the poll. 

    One of Boutaflika's leading challengers is likely to be his former protege, Ali Benflis, secretary general of Algeria's former
    sole political party, the National Liberation Front (FLN). 

    The open battle between Boutaflika and Benflis, who was sacked as prime minister last year after the two fell-out, has split the party into two. A group of FLN rebels are supporting Boutaflika's re-election bid. 

    The 40 candidates who have declared they will stand in the April vote have to complete their paperwork by 23 February.  The definitive list of candidates is due to be published on 6 March.

    SOURCE: AFP


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