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Algeria’s Bouteflika wins third term as president

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. ”[There was] a real tsunami of massive fraud which reached an industrial scale,” the party said in a statement.

The Interior Minister said the election had demonstrated to the world that Algeria was committed to democracy. – Reuters

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