As ridicule never killed anyone, ailing Abdelaziz Bouteflika will not quit the Algerian Presidency after his fourth term. Despite his health condition, which has confined him to a wheelchair, his inability to speak intelligibly in public or even meet visiting counterparts, Bouteflika is poised to run for a fifth term. That is what his henchman, Farouk Ksentini announced to the Algerian press.
Ksentini, who is surprisingly head of the national Advisory Commission for human rights protection and promotion, said, “I met President Bouteflika last week. We talked for an hour. This is the fourth time we meet this year. I knew him for thirty years and I noticed that he has a strong will to run for a fifth term. It is his right and we will back him.”
Ksentini added in a statement to Algerian news outlet “TSA”, that “Bouteflika wants to stay in power until he dies.”
He also discarded the possibility of Bouteflika leaving the presidency in favor of his brother Said, who was reportedly secretly preparing to run for elections.
Ksentini went on to say that he saw that the President was in good health and that his “analysis of the political situation is perfect,” Yet he acknowledged that “his voice has diminished and that he has difficulty moving his feet although his mental health is intact.”
“All that has been said about his memory loss or his incapacity to think is false. His health is improving with time,” he claimed.
Bouteflika is not obliged to participate in the electoral campaign, Ksentini said. “He has enough well-qualified people in his entourage who can do it on his behalf.”
The statement of Ksentini, whose racist remarks regarding sub-Saharans are no secret, are indicative of a crumbling regime in denial and myopic to the impending economic and political crisis that threatens the country’s fragile stability and social peace.
As the Algerian economy crumbles against the backdrop of dwindling oil revenues, Algerian officials continue to seek comfort in time-buying measures shunning real structural reforms. This attitude also marks their analyses of the uncertainties concerning the failing health of Bouteflika, whose public appearances are a thing of the past.
The opacity characterizing the Algerian regime leaves little hope for a transparent and peaceful transition from Bouteflika’s era to the next. The election of Bouteflika was a time-buying measure for the vying clans within the regime to reach a consensus on a successor to Bouteflika who would preserve the status-quo of a regime where interests of corrupt military officials are interlinked with clientelist businessmen.