Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 77, has been declared winner in the Algerian presidential election that his nearest rival, one-time prime minister Ali Benflis said was marred by massive fraud. Bouteflika won a fourth five-year term. He was first elected in 1999.
Friday April 18, 2014, 20:07 DST
Algeria’s incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 77, was declared winner in the presidential election today. Interior Minister Tayeb Belaiz announced at a press conference in Algiers that Bouteflika had received 81.53 percent of the vote beating his nearest rival Ali Benflis who was reported to have garnered 12.18 percent.
Belaiz said that 51.78 percent of Algerians had cast their ballots.
Bouteflika’s victory gives him a fourth term in office but the runner-up criticized the election saying there was “fraud on a massive scale.” Benflis is a former prime minister. Bouteflika was first elected president in 1999.
Many older Algerians voted for him crediting him with ending the brutal civil war that had led to the deaths of more than 350,000 people following the victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in parliamentary elections in December 1991.
Instead of respecting the election result, the Algerian military backed by the West launched a brutal campaign leading to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people. Many leading members of FIS were arrested or killed as the military went on a killing spree.
Bouteflika, 77, suffered a stroke last year leaving him wheelchair bound. Some observer thought he would not seek a new five-year term but perhaps the lure of office proved too difficult to resist.
He is a veteran of the Algerian freedom struggle from France and had also served as president of the UN General Assembly in 1974 when PLO leader Yassir Arafat was invited to address the assembly, for the first time in PLO history.
Bouteflika was Algeria’s ambassador to the UN at the time.
Addressing a press conference following announcement of the election result, Benflis said he could not accept the result and would continue his campaign against the vote fraud with “all the legal means at my disposal.”
Algeria’s Interior Minister Belaiz was asked to comment on Benflis’ fraud allegations. He cited the election's lengthy vote-counting procedures and added: ”Anyone who can overcome all that, I salute their intelligence.”
Both the Algerian commission charged with supervising the election as well and African Union observers said the vote went smoothly.
In addition to Benflis, other candidates in the running against Bouteflika were: Abdelaziz Belaid, who came third with 3.03 percent of the vote. Louisa Hanoune, the only female candidate won 1.37 percent while the two other candidates, Ali Fawzi Rebaine and Moussa Touati both won less than one percent.