By Majid Morcelli
By Majid Morcelli
San Francisco – Moroccan King Mohammed VI was the first world leader to congratulate President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who, despite his poor health, won a fourth term with 81.53 percent of the Algerian vote. The king said that Bouteflika’s re-election“is a recognition by the Algerian people of the many accomplishments of your presidency, and an appreciation of your efforts to achieve security and stability throughout the country, and to lay down the foundations of the modern Algerian state.”
Algerians witnessed the 77-year-old incumbent casting his vote from a wheelchair. The election was marred by low turnout and Bouteflika’s rival, Ali Benflis, allegations of fraud. Benflis told a news conference that, “Recognizing [the election] would be complicity in fraud,” and called it “an alliance between fraud, suspicious money, and a bought-off media.”
The question in everyone’s minds especially those Moroccans who follow the bumpy relationship between Morocco and Algeria, or better yet, between Morocco and the Algerian military junta, is why the King of Morocco congratulated a puppet of the Algerian military with full knowledge, in advance, that Algerians, given a chance, would never have elected a sick president who has not communicated with the Algerian people in more than two years?
The answer to this question is that Mohammed VI is a very clever king. He understands that Bouteflika will likely be president for life and that he might even die in office. Further, the Algerian opposition is very weak and there is no one who can challenge Bouteflika and his FLN. His majesty has apparently decided to beat them at their own game by being the first one to congratulate the related President.
Morocco’s king understands very well that it is not up to him to tell the world and the Algerian people in particular that the elections are rigged ahead of the game. If the Algerian people are content with or unwilling to overthrow “Le Pouvoir,” as Bouteflika is known, then it is not for Morocco or its king to do it for them.
The Algerian military was hoping not to receive any congratulatory message from the king, the omission of which which would have given it yet another opportunity to paint Morocco as the enemy. Instead, the message arrived even earlier than anyone else’s. Not only did the message greatly disappoint Bouteflika, the FLN, and the military, but it also stunned the Algerian news media which was stripped of another opportunity to bash the Moroccan king.
His Majesty’s message to Bouteflika could not have been more timely, especially because it was sent from Dakhla, the jewel of the Moroccan Sahara.
Edited by Elisabeth Myers
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy