President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has defied protesters by reaffirming that he’s seeking another term in office, pledging to step down soon after if elected in a statement issued by the presidency on March 3. His decision to seek a fifth term in office has sparked nationwide protests involving young and old Algerians across the North African country peacefully protesting the continuing hold of Abdelaziz’ and his inner circle on power.
In December, the President cancelled a meeting with Saudi crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, supposedly because he had the flu. Now his re-election application was submitted by his campaign manager even after the electoral commission had ruled that candidates need to submit their papers in person, but Adbelaziz is currently reported to be in Switzerland for “medical checks”.
Bouteflika, who has been in poor health since a 2013 stroke, is widely seen as an ineffective head of state in a country suffering from a deep economic crisis – QZ Africa
Six other candidates have formally entered the race, including Rt General Ali Ghediri, businessman Rachid Nekkaz, who has a sizeable Facebook following and is said to be popular among young Algerians, but was deemed ineligible. Instead his cousin, a car mechanic who is also called Rachid Nekkaz has entered and the businessman says he will serve as his campaign manager. Two opposition parties, the Labour Party, and the Islamist Movement of Society for Peace, have said they will boycott the election.
The atmosphere of Algeria’s protests is generally festive but there have been cases of anger and indignation, fiery speeches, violence and clashes with the police. A “million-man march” on March 1 was reported to be mostly peaceful, with the state news agency claiming that 183 people were injured.