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Algerian Vote Rigging Accusations

Three candidates in Algeria's election have issued a warning against what they say is a plan to rig the election by the incumbent president.

The candidates say Abdelaziz Bouteflika's supporters plan to declare that he won the election by between 53% to 55% even before counting has ended.
Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 00:10 GMT 01:10 UK

Algerian vote rigging accusations

By Heba Saleh
BBC correspondent in Algiers

Algerians go to the polls on Thursday

Three candidates in Algeria's election have issued a warning against what they say is a plan to rig the election by the incumbent president.

The candidates say Abdelaziz Bouteflika's supporters plan to declare that he won the election by between 53% to 55% even before counting has ended.

Six candidates are competing in Thursday's election, but Mr Bouteflika is regarded as the frontrunner.

The three candidates offer no evidence to back their claim.


In a thinly veiled reference to the army, they call for intervention by state institutions which protect security and public order.

Military role

Mr Bouteflika is regarded as the candidate with the best chances in this election.

Many Algerians credit him with restoring peace to the country after more than a decade of political violence.

But his main rival, former prime minister, Ali Benflis, could prove a formidable challenger if Mr Bouteflika does not win outright in the first round.

Mr Benflis is one of the three candidates warning that the president plans to rig the election so there would be no second round.

Like Mr Bouteflika, Mr Benflis is thought to enjoy the support of a section of the Algerian army which remains the dominant force in political life.

Mr Bouteflika spent his first term in power struggles with the army as he tried to resist efforts to reduce him to a figurehead.

The amnesty he offered Islamic militants who surrendered and his success in ending Algeria's international isolation reinforced his position.

Some analysts say the military have agreed to allow him another term, but they want to weaken him to prevent him from challenging their authority.

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