Celebrations started early, even before the results of the Algerian presidential election were announced, but supporters of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power for 15 years, were confident he would serve a fourth five-year term.
And so preliminary results proved, with 81.53% of the vote, although barely half the electorate turned out, only 51.7%.
Bouteflika has lost mobility and has problems speaking since a stroke last year, although his supporters insist he remains sharp and is in control, but the opposition complained of “stage-managed” fraud. Nearest rival Ali Benflis won just over 12%.
“I tell you, my fellow citizens that I will in no way and under no circumstances accept the results from this fraudulent event,” he told a crowd.
Bouteflika has promised a “renewed republic”, comprising economic reforms and constitutional reform designed to reinforce parliamentary and prime ministerial powers. He has said his generation’s time has passed, and younger people should take over at the top.