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Algeria’s Presidential Candidates Start Campaign, Protesters Threaten Boycott

Despite ongoing protests demanding a complete political overhaul, Algeria’s interim government and army are continuing plans for the upcoming elections.

Rabat – Algeria’s presidential candidates began their campaigns for the upcoming elections on Sunday, November 17, despite protesters vowing to boycott the polls.

Five candidates have thrown their hats into the ring to replace Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The former president resigned in February of this year, under heavy pressure from unprecedented popular protests. 

Nearly ten months after Bouteflika bowed to pressure from the country-wide protests, the demonstrations are still ongoing in Algiers, with protesters calling for a new generation of politicians. 

Despite the people’s calls for a radical change, the presidential candidates are not all new faces.  More than one member of the Bouteflika era political elite have announced their candidacy, including former prime ministers Ali Benflis and Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Thousands of Algerians took to the streets on Friday, November 15, for the 39th week of protests to end the corruption and dysfunctions that have characterized the country’s political regime in recent years. The army have threatened to intervene to end the protests.

Protesters do not trust the interim government and the army to organize fair and transparent democratic elections and have threatened to boycott the polls. The Algerian demonstrators will not be satisfied until all of the surviving Bouteflika elites, including army chief Gaid Salah, step down.

Seen as the country’s de facto leader, General Salah has been trying to distance himself from the Bouteflika regime. H has also threatened opponents of the presidential elections.

Salah warned of harsh punishment for anyone who jeopardizes the election process, all the while vowing not to interfere in the election.

In September, Salah said, “We affirm that only the people will pick the next president through ballot boxes, and the army will not support anyone.”