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Lamine Chikhi, Hamid Ould Ahmed10 Apr 2009 13:30
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika won 90,24% of the vote in a presidential election, officials said on Friday, cementing his hold on the oil producer troubled by a lingering Islamist insurgency.
But some in the opposition alleged massive fraud and militants attacked a polling station on Thursday, underscoring the challenges Bouteflika still faces from sections of the population disillusioned by poverty and joblessness.
“Bouteflika has won ... 90,24% of the votes cast,” Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, in charge of organising Thursday’s election told a news conference.
Bouteflika’s nearest rival, Trotskyist candidate Louisa Hannoune, won 4,22% of the vote, the minister said.
The ministry had already announced turnout was 74,11%—higher than in the last presidential vote and an indication that opposition calls for a boycott had not been heeded by many of Algeria’s 34-million people.
Victory for Bouteflika, a 72-year-old veteran of Algeria’s war for independence from France, was never in doubt.
He faced lightweight rivals in the ballot and had a well-funded campaign that plastered the capital with his posters.
Algerian lawmakers cleared the way for Bouteflika to stand for a third term in Thursday’s election by abolishing term limits, a move critics said could allow him to serve as president for life.
The opposition Front of Socialist Forces, which boycotted the vote, accused the authorities of artificially inflating the turnout.
The Interior Minister said the election had demonstrated to the world that Algeria was committed to democracy. - Reuters
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