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The bigger picture in Algeria’s elections

Mar 09,2019 - Last updated at Mar 09,2019

The protests in Algeria against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term, even though he is 82 years old and had suffered an incapacitating stoke in 2013, is not justified as long as the April 18 presidential elections will be conducted fairly and freely. 

The people of Algeria are, after all, the final arbiters of whether Bouteflika can be the country’s president for another five years after having completed 20 years in office. 

Voters will have a chance to decide whether the incumbent president is fit to rule the country for another five years. It is quite common for leaders to seek additional terms in office, such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also bidding for another term in office for the fifth time in a row, even though he has been indicted by Israel’s attorney general on corruption charges.

The main issue, therefore, is not whether Bouteflika has been in office for too long, but whether his reelection would be fair and free. Accordingly, boycotting the upcoming elections, including by political parties, is certainly the right way to address the issue. 

What all shareholders may insist on, however, is to have the election observed by a neutral or international commission, in order to make sure that it has been conducted according to international rules. Algeria is going through turbulent times and is facing many hardships, both economic and political. 

Protesters are invited not to increase the pressures on the country by taking to the streets, especially when the country is on the verge of conducting milestone elections.

A stable Algeria is a stable North Africa. Promoting peace and security in the country is tantamount to contributing to Arab security and stability. All parties are invited to see the bigger picture before they embark on threatening the country’s stability.

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