18 April 2014

Algeria: Officially, Bouteflika Trounces Benflis to Win Fourth Term As Algerian President

Algeria's president has won a fourth term. Abdelaziz Bouteflika can serve another five years following an election that opponents have dismissed as a stage-managed fraud to keep the ailing leader in power.

Algerians handed Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 77, a fourth term as president with 81.53 per cent of the vote, Interior Minister Taieb Belaiz said Friday. Bouteflika's main rival, Ali Benflis, received 12.18 percent. Just over 50 percent of those eligible cast votes - a significant dip from the official, but disputed, number of 74 percent in the 2009 presidential race.

Bouteflika won 90 percent of the vote in 2009 and 85 percent in 2004, when Benflis alleged fraud on an "industrial" scale. Much along those lines, even before the official results were released Friday, Benflis and others called the 2014 election a fraud.

"There has been a violation of the will of the people," Benflis, a former ally of Bouteflika's, said on Thursday. "I completely reject these results."

Many had expected Bouteflika to win with the backing of the ruling Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) party, which has dominated the political system since Algeria's independence from France in 1962. Six opposition parties had boycotted Thursday's vote on the grounds that the election would not reform a system mostly closed to change since the FLN's one-party rule in the early post-independence years.

Bouteflika appeared in a wheelchair to cast his vote Thursday in a rare public appearance since suffering a stroke last year that has raised doubts about whether, after 15 years in power, he remains fit to govern the North African country, an oil-producing OPEC member.

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