Algeria's Bouteflika urges strong election turnout

AFP , Sunday 2 Mar 2014

Algeria's veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is running for a fourth term in elections in April, on Sunday called for voters to turn out in large numbers.

The 77-year-old president, who has ruled Algeria since 1999, announced a week ago he will seek re-election in the April 17 vote, despite worries over his health.

In a message read by Justice Minister Tayeb Louh, Bouteflika urged "all citizens to turn out in force ... to choose the person they believe is most suitable to lead the country to the next stage."

"The Algerian people will give, as usual, a lesson in citizenship to those who want to harm our dear homeland, and will silence all those who doubt its political maturity, and its capacity to hold onto its gains, its security and its stability," Bouteflika said.

The message, carried by national news agency APS, came a day after police dispersed dozens of demonstrators in Algiers who were protesting against Bouteflika seeking another term in office.

Several politicians have voiced concerns about Bouteflika serving a fresh term, given the physical state of the president.

Bouteflika was hospitalised in Paris for three months last year after suffering a mini stroke and he has chaired just two cabinet meetings since returning home in July.

He has also not spoken in public for nearly two years.

Former Algerian premier Mouloud Hamrouche on Thursday called for a "peaceful" change of Bouteflika's regime, which he said was no longer capable of running the country.

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