Infirm Bouteflika seeks presidency for life or an exit on his own terms
As was expected, ailing president Bouteflika announced in a letter that he will succeed himself for a fifth term, but promised early elections within a year in a bid to stoke off public anger against his re-election while preparing to leave power on his own terms.
In view of his frail health, Bouteflika hasn’t spoken in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. And while the country is in turmoil, protesting his fifth term in office; he is believed to be hospitalized in Switzerland.
His candidacy letter was met with protests, which started on Sunday night and continued to Monday with students taking to the streets.
The President pledged to hold a national conference after his election for a fifth term followed by anticipated elections in which he promised not to run again, at a time analysts question whether he will be still alive before the ballot of April 18.
Bouteflika, confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak intelligibly, is unrelenting in his obstinacy to a presidency for life. His insistence to be re-elected mirrors disdain for the popular protests across Algiers which have been so far peaceful save some scuffles with Police in Algiers which has used tear gas injuring hundreds and killing one person so far.
Yet, Bouteflika’s candidacy is a mere time buying measure that may help vying clans with a regime made up of military generals, ruling FLN leaders and business tycoons to agree on a successor.
Algeria has been ruled by figures who took part in the war of liberation. But some Algerian nationalists denounce them as wrong leaders who hijacked power from a civilian government after the departure of the French, marginalized real resistance figure and imposed a military autocracy.
Opposition parties have issued a joint release calling on all candidates to withdraw from sham elections whose result is set in advance in favor of Bouteflika, the regime’s candidate.
They also called for postponing elections while implementing article 102 of the constitution in order to declare the Presidency vacant due to the serious health condition of the incumbent president.