Algerian opposition calls for election boycott in response to Bouteflika's re-election bid
Opposition parties in Algeria have called for a boycott against tentative presidential elections that are scheduled for April after the current president announced his bid for a fourth term earlier this week, according to Reuters Tuesday.
"Candidates should retire from this electoral masquerade. There are not the conditions [necessary] for a free and transparent [election]," the three opposition parties said in a statement.
The three opposition groups, the RCD movement, the Islamist MSP party, and Ennahda party, released their statement after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika registered his candidacy for a fourth term with the Interior Ministry Sunday, with a win in April extending his rule to a whopping 15 years.
However, the boycott is expected to "pose no real challenge," with Bouteflika "almost assured" of re-election due to his support from the ruling National Liberation (FLN) party as well as his legacy as the individual who "delivered [Algeria] to peace and stability" after the country's civil war in the 1990s with Islamists. However, what is significant about this boycott call is that it represents the first time that MSP and RCD have joined together in opposition to the ruling government, indicating that perhaps Algeria's opposition movement will become stronger in the future years.
Bouteflika has not yet officially announced his bid for a fourth term, and many are skeptical that his deteriorating health is a call to question his decision to run for re-election.
The 76-year old leader has only made several public appearances since a stroke last year sent him to Paris for treatment, and a "check-up" visit this past January has reignited conversations that Algeria may be in need for new political leadership.