Algeria: Bouteflika firm favourite to win presidential ballot

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Algeria: Bouteflika firm favourite to win presidential ballot

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Algeria is voting in a presidential election almost certain to return current incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The ailing president, who suffered a stroke last year, made a rare appearance earlier on Thursday to cast his ballot.

In power for 15 years, the 77-year-old leader is widely predicted to win a fourth term in spite of his health problems and playing next to no part in his own re-election campaign.

Bouteflika’s main opposition rival is former prime minister Ali Benflis.
A presidential candidate in 2004 he has warned of ballot fraud this time round, vowing not to tolerate any attempt by the ruling National Liberation Front to rig the vote.

Workers Party leader Louisa Hanoune is one Bouteflika’s other five opponents. Despite being popularly known as Algeria’s Iron Lady she is not viewed as a serious challenger to the current order.

In all, some 23 million Algerians can take part, though a low turn out is predicted. However, security remains tight after several violent protests demanding change.

First results are expected at the earliest on Friday.