Bouteflika sends his candidacy, commits to organize early presidential elections & to quit

Bouteflika sends his candidacy, commits to organize early presidential elections & to quit

Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s campaign director, Sunday evening presented to the Constitutional Council the incumbent president’s candidacy for a fifth term, only few hours before the deadline for submitting candidacies.

According to the official news agency APS, Abdelghani Zaâlane, Bouteflika’s new campaign director, submitted Bouteflika’s candidacy to the Constitutional Council.

Abdelghani Zaâlane, Minister of transport, was unexpectedly appointed campaign director Saturday (March 2), in replacement of Abdelmalek Sellal, a former Prime Minister. No reasons were given for Sellal’s sacking.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his camp have chosen to wait until the last hours in the hope of seeing heavyweights withdraw from the race as did Ali Benflis of L’Avant-garde des Libertés party, who was the main challenger of Bouteflika in 2004 and 2014, and Abderrazak Makri, the leader of Le Mouvement de la société pour la paix (MSP), the main Islamist party that broke with the presidential alliance in 2012 and that is boycotting the vote.

Bouteflika is the 8th candidate to have submitted his candidacy file to the Constitutional Council, which must rule within ten days on the validity of applications. However, no candidate is a threatening contender to the incumbent president.

A few minutes before his candidacy submission was announced, Abdelaziz Bouteflika addressed a candidacy message to the Algerians where he pledged, if re-elected on April 18, not to complete his mandate and to withdraw at the end of an early presidential election. The date of the polls would be set at the end of a “national conference”, he said.

“I commit myself to the organization of an early presidential election”, the date of which will be decided by “an inclusive and independent national conference” to be held after the poll of April 18. “I pledge not to be a candidate for this (early) election”, said Bouteflika in the message read out by Abdelghani Zaâlane Sunday night before the media.

Bouteflika’s commitment to exercise only an abbreviated mandate aims to defuse an unprecedented challenge to his power, without however bowing to the calls of the demonstrators who have been claiming in the first place that he abandons his candidacy for a fifth term.

On Sunday, protesters took to the streets again in several Algerian cities and also in some French towns, mainly Paris, Marseilles and Lyon to decry the candidacy of a moribund man that even some of his former ministers deem unfit to run the country.

And apparently his candidacy message was not convincing as new marches were staged Sunday night downtown Algiers and in many other cities where several hundred young people took to the streets.

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