Algerian opposition names its candidate for presidential poll

Algeria’s frail President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999, may stand for a fifth term at elections next year. (AFP)
Updated 26 January 2019

Algerian opposition names its candidate for presidential poll

  • If Bouteflika runs again he is set to win, as the opposition is split
  • The election is set for April 18. By law, would-be candidates now have until March 4 to register with the constitutional court

ALGIERS: Algeria’s main conservative party, the Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP), said on Saturday it has decided to take part in April’s presidential election.

During the night of Friday to Saturday “the consultative council decided by an overwhelming majority to take part in the presidential election and to present Dr. Abderrazak Makri as the party’s candidate,” the MSP’s head of communications Abdellah Bouadji told AFP.

Presenting itself as moderate, the MSP had supported aging incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika within a governing alliance, before going its own way in 2012. Observers say if Bouteflika runs again he is set to win, as the opposition is divided into Islamists and secular parties.

Bouteflika, 81, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since a stroke in 2013, is due to complete a fourth term in office on April 28. The election is set for April 18. By law, would-be candidates now have until March 4 to register with the constitutional court.

Despite his advanced age and poor health, some of Bouteflika’s supporters have called for him to stand again. But the president himself is yet to make his plans clear.

Ahead of the last presidential election in 2014, Bouteflika only declared his intention to run a few days ahead of the deadline.

Despite his advanced age and poor health, there have been calls from his supporters for him to stand for a fifth term.

 

Frozen politics

Uncertainty over whether Bouteflika will stand for re-election has frozen Algerian politics for months. No candidate of note has thrown their hat into the ring.

Algerian politics is notoriously opaque with the winner of every multiparty presidential election pre-selected by a shadowy elite, beginning in 1995 with victory by retired Gen. Liamine Zeroual.

For this year’s election, the membership of the kingmaking elite has changed.

Bouteflika has proved himself a wily political survivor, navigating Arab Spring-inspired riots in 2011 by promising reforms that were never enacted and by playing on fears of a repeat of Algeria’s 1991-2002 civil war.

Bouteflika’s stewardship was key to the country’s emergence from that conflict, as he introduced a civil reconciliation program that offered partial amnesty to  extremists.

Analysts said Bouteflika’s announcement of the election date will ease concerns that the vote might get postponed.

In 1991, the army cancelled elections which an Islamist party was set to win, triggering almost a decade of civil war that killed some 200,000 people.

 

Flooding kills five

Five people died after being swept away by flood waters as a cold snap in the Maghreb brought snow to several of the country’s regions, Algeria’s civil protection unit said on Saturday.

“All the victims have been retrieved over the last 48 hours after being swept away by waters in Annaba, El-Tarf, Tizi Ouzou and Tipaza,” the civil protection body said.

Salvage operations took place in more than 17 areas and around 100 people have been rescued in the last 24 hours.

A total of 33 roads remain blocked in over 10 regions because of snow, the civil protection unit said, adding “snow clearing operations are progressing.”

Elsewhere in North Africa, neighboring Tunisia’s interior ministry said on Friday two people were killed by flooding and cold weather, after heavy snowfall.


German frigate and 250 soldiers join EU mission to enforce Libya arms embargo

Updated 21 min 59 sec ago

German frigate and 250 soldiers join EU mission to enforce Libya arms embargo

  • The frigate left from the port of Wilhelmshaven to start an EU five-month mission
  • The mission aims to enforce the embargo, collect data on illegal oil exports, and tackle migrant crisis

CAIRO: A German navy frigate carrying 250 soldiers headed to the Mediterranean on Tuesday to join an EU mission aimed at enforcing a UN arms embargo on Libya. 
The frigate left from the port of Wilhelmshaven to start a five-month mission tasked with preventing the flow of weapons into war-torn Libya.
The EU mission Operation Irini, launched in May, was hampered by escalating fighting across the country, which saw Turkey intervene in recent months. 
The mission aims to enforce the embargo, collect data on Libya’s illegal oil exports as well as its migrant smuggling crisis.  
The crew members are set to return on Dec. 20, DPA, an international German news agency reported. They may not land until the mentioned date due to coronavirus fears, the report added. 
Turkey has been accused of exacerbating the war in Libya, providing drones, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help Libya’s government based in the capital, Tripoli.
That administration, which is backed by an array of militias, has been fighting the forces of commander Khalifa Haftar, who is loyal to a rival administration in the east of the country.
Libya has been torn by violence since long-time ruler Muammar Qaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.