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Algeria power vacuum due to ailing president: Opposition

AFP , Wednesday 25 Feb 2015
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A key Algerian opposition figure charged Wednesday that the country has slumped into a power vacuum because of aging President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's ailing health.

"Parliament has come to a halt... the government cannot submit laws without holding cabinet meetings," said Ali Benflis, a beaten challenger of the veteran president in an election last year.

"The president no longer addresses the people, there hasn't been a speech since May 2012," he told a news conference in Algiers.

"This is a power vacuum," said Benflis, a former prime minister who has launched his own party. The president had chaired "only four cabinet meetings in a year and 10 laws have been passed".

Bouteflika, who turns 78 in March, won a fourth term with more than 80 percent of the vote despite having suffered a stroke in 2013 and been hospitalised in Paris.

State media have since shown him receiving foreign and Algerian leaders.

Benflis ran for election against his mentor Bouteflika in 2004, scrapping only six percent of the vote. After a decade in the political wilderness, he returned to contest last year's poll, winning 12 percent of the vote.

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