Algeria's Bouteflika Re-Elected to 3rd Term
By Scott Stearns
10 April 2009
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been re-elected in a vote boycotted by some opposition parties who were upset by changes to the electoral law allowing him to run for a third consecutive term.
|Algerian Pres. Abdelaziz Bouteflika waves as he arrives at his campaign headquarters in Algiers a day after the presidential elections, 10 Apr 2009|
President Bouteflika won re-election with more than 90 percent of votes cast. But as he had little serious competition, the bigger question in this election was how many of Algeria's 20-million registered voters would show up.
The president campaigned hard, urging people to vote even if they voted against him, hoping a big turnout would validate his national security and economic programs. If few voters went to the polls, opposition parties could claim their electoral boycott was a success.
The Interior Ministry said final voter turnout for Thursday's balloting topped 74 percent -- higher than the president's last election.
In a written statement, Mr. Bouteflika praised what he called Algerian voters' "high sense of civic responsibility" and called the election "an eloquent lesson in democracy."
The opposition Front of Socialist Forces said the electoral results are inflated. A party statement says "a real tsunami" of massive vote fraud "reached an industrial scale."
Opposition parties including the Movement for Culture and Democracy boycotted the vote to protest the abolition of term limits that allowed President Bouteflika to run again. The 72-year-old veteran of the fight against French colonialism was backed by Algeria's three largest political parties, which together control more than 80 percent of the seats in parliament.
Much of the president's campaign focused on the continuing fight against a simmering Islamic insurgency. The country has been plagued by unrest since 1992, when parliamentary elections were canceled as it appeared a coalition of Islamist groups might take power.
Two policemen were injured by an election-day bomb blast in the town of Naceria, 50 kilometers east of Algeris. Two other bombs were defused at the scene.
A dozen opposition supporters burned down a polling station and closed two others in the Bouira District, but the two closed stations were later reopened by security forces.
Announcing President Bouteflika's win, Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni said the election took place despite attempts to disrupt it.
Zerhouni said none of the incidents or irregularities had any significant effect on the outcome of the election.