Ailing Bouteflika favourite in Algerian polls

2014-04-17 10:38
Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Algeria
    Berber, Arab, Islamic, and European values mix and sometimes clash as Algeria struggles for peace Now R419.00
    buy now
Algiers - Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is standing for a fourth term in Thursday's presidential election, is widely expected to win despite his frail health preventing him from even campaigning.

The 77-year-old has not been seen in public since May 2012 and his decision to seek a new mandate has provoked derision and drawn sharp criticism from senior political figures questioning his ability to rule after he suffered a mini-stroke last year.

But he remains popular with many Algerians who credit him with helping to end a devastating civil war and contain Arab Spring protests.

A veteran of the war of independence against France, Bouteflika came to power in 1999, but has more recently been dogged by ill health and corruption scandals.

He has also never freed himself from the pervasive control of the military, despite being determined to roll back its influence and curb the powers of its intelligence heads who have dominated politics since independence.

"I'm not three quarters of a president," he said after being elected in 1999, addressing critics who saw him as another puppet of the army.

Despite efforts to reduce their influence, the army and the DRS intelligence agency are still widely considered to be the real power in Algeria.

The army has chosen all of the country's post-independence leaders - and Bouteflika was no different.

With the military's support, he stood unopposed in 1999 as the candidate of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) after all the other candidates withdrew, citing fears of electoral fraud.

Respected by many

But Bouteflika has promised constitutional changes that would create a "broad democracy" if re-elected on April 17, in a statement read by his campaign chief.

A dapper figure known for wearing a three-piece suit even in baking Saharan conditions, Bouteflika is respected by many for his role in ending the civil war in the 1990s that killed at least 150 000 people.

The military-backed government's decision to cancel elections in 1991 which an Islamist party had been poised to win sparked the decade of bloodletting.

Islamist insurgents attacked both the military and civilians amid allegations of shocking abuses by both sides.

Bouteflika proposed an amnesty for rebels who laid down their arms and twice secured public endorsement for "national reconciliation" through referendums.

The first, in September 1999, was a major gamble but paid off, leading to a sharp decrease in violence that helped propel Bouteflika to a second term in 2004.

The resignation shortly afterwards of Mohamed Lamari, a Moscow-trained former army chief and key proponent of eradicating the armed Islamists during the civil war, was a step forward in curbing the military's power.

And the death in 2007 of General Smain Lamari, a close ally of the shadowy intelligence chief Mohamed "Tewfik" Mediene, the powerful hidden force in Algerian politics, was thought to further strengthen Bouteflika's hand.

High youth unemployment

But he never succeeded in neutralising Mediene, despite steps to emasculate the military intelligence agency in 2013.

Bouteflika began a third term in 2009 following a constitutional amendment allowing him to stand again.

His supporters argue that under his stewardship public and private investment has created millions of jobs and dramatically lowered unemployment.

But a lack of opportunity continues to drive many Algerians abroad, often illegally, as youth unemployment remains high despite windfall oil revenues.

When the Arab Spring burst into life in January 2011, Algeria witnessed deadly social unrest, and a month later Bouteflika acceded to an opposition demand, lifting a 19-year state of emergency.

To head off further unrest he also dished out pay rises and announced piecemeal political reforms, including boosting the role of independent parties.

But these initiatives won little opposition support, and legislative elections in May 2012 saw the FLN tighten its control of parliament.

Bouteflika's third term has been overshadowed by the serious concerns about his health, culminating in April last year when he was rushed to hospital in France after suffering a mini-stroke, spending three months recovering.

Despite appearing only rarely on state television because of his frail physical condition, he submitted his candidacy last month and remains the front-runner on Thursday, nearly two years after stating that "my generation has served its time".
Read more on:    abdelaziz bouteflika  |  algeria  |  north africa  |  algeria elections 2014
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 

6 life hacks you simply have to know

A few simple tricks can make your life so much easier!

 
 

For chic geeks...

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose
It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may feel like you are treading water and going nowhere fast. You may want to get off the merry go round. By pushing yourself...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.