Algerian opposition cries foul over election delay

ALGIERS

Algerian opposition figures on Wednesday voiced their rejection of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s recent decision to postpone scheduled presidential elections. 

Earlier this week, the 82-year-old Bouteflika announced that the polls — originally slated for April — would be postponed to a later date, yet to be decided.

He also announced his decision to withdraw his candidacy from the upcoming election.

The surprise announcement followed several weeks of popular demonstrations — in different parts of the country, including capital Algiers — against Bouteflika’s stated intention to run for a fifth term in office.

In a joint statement issued Wednesday, several opposition groups rejected the decision, saying the move amounted to the de facto extension of Bouteflika’s fourth term in office.

In February, Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front nominated Bouteflika, who has ruled Algeria since 1999, to run for a fifth presidential term.

Previously, opposition figures had urged the aging leader, who in 2013 underwent treatment for a blood clot in the brain, to refrain from contesting the poll.

“The current authorities [i.e., Bouteflika and his government] aren’t qualified to lead the transitional period,” Wednesday’s opposition statement read.

“They cannot stay in power in contravention of the Algerian constitution and the will of the people,” it added.

Opposition groups also urged the public to keep staging anti-Bouteflika demonstrations and on “honest and rational” members of parliament to withdraw from the assembly.

Wednesday’s statement was signed by a number of prominent opposition figures, including former Prime Minister Ali Benflis and former Information Minister Abdelaziz Rihabi.

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