Stability for Algeria or a sham presidential election? That is one aspect of the debate as the north African country goes to the polls.
Incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika looks set to win a fourth term at the age of 77. Last year he suffered a stroke. Because of his health he has not campaigned, others have done that for him. Three voters gave their opinions on the ballot.
“I will choose Bouteflika because he is the president we trust. He is our president and we don’t need someone else. This is our country, Algeria, it is our mother, we want peace, Long live Algeria,” stressed Mahmoud. Two others were not as enthusiastic.
“No one will vote. The results are already known, what’s happening is an electoral masquerade. To be honest, we can’t call this an election and no one will go to the ballot,” opined Habib.
Lotfi said: “I won’t vote. I’m not convinced by these elections, I’m not convinced by their programmes and I’m not convinced by any one of the candidates.”
The president’s former chief of staff and one time prime minister Ali Benflis is the strongest of the other five candidates. His ambition is to make it through to a second round of voting.
Louisa Hanoune the head of the Workers Party is standing for the third time, so too is conservative Moussa Touati. It’s also Ali Fawsi Rebaine of the “Generation of ’54” party’s third attempt. Abdelaziz Belaid of the FM Front for the future is the youngest.
But the opposition parties are perceived to be weak in a country where President Bouteflika’s National Liberation party has ruled for nearly three decades.