Algeria’s Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP) has decided to take part in April’s presidential election, naming the party’s head as its candidate.
Abdellah Bouadji, the MSP’s head of communications, told the AFP news agency that the consultative council made the decision overnight on Saturday “by an overwhelming majority” and presented Dr Abderrazak Makri as the party’s candidate.
Identifying itself as Islamist and moderate, the MSP had supported ailing incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika within a governing alliance, before going its own way in 2012.
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.
Despite his advanced age and poor health, the chief of his National Liberation Front party, Djamel Ould Abbes, said Bouteflika would stand for a fifth term. But the president himself is yet to make his plans clear.
If he wins, he will be 87 by the time Algeria’s next elections are held.
By law, would-be candidates have until March 4 to register with the constitutional court.
In advance of the last presidential election in 2014, Bouteflika only declared his intention to run a few days before the deadline.
Stability over democracy
More than 40 percent of Algeria’s 41 million population is under 25 and many of them know no leader other than Bouteflika.
Many Algerians have chosen peace and stability over political reform, pointing at the devastation in neighbouring Libya as a result of the country’s revolution and political turmoil.
In 2014, in light of the president’s failing health, the military thought it unwise for Bouteflika to run for a fourth term.
However, in a rare moment of indecision, the army is believed to have conceded to the ailing president’s demands, deeming it necessary to preserve stability in times of uncertainty.