Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Algeria: presidential candidates approved

The Algerian Constitutional Council on Monday approved six of the nine candidates who wanted to run in the April 8 presidential elections.

They are ... (with alternative spellings & translation of party names)

-- President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Abdul Aziz Butaflika)
-- Ali Benflis -- Chairperson, National Liberation Front (FNL)
-- Abdallah Jaballah (Saad Abdallah Djaballah) -- Chairperson, EL Islah Movement or National Reform Movement
-- Said Sadi (Saeed Saadi/Saidi) -- Chairperson, Rally for Democracy and Culture or Coalition for Culture and Democracy
-- Louisa Hanoune (Lweisa Hannoun) -- Chairperson, Workers Party
-- Faouzi Rebaine (Ali Fawzi Rabb'in) -- Leader, AHD 54 (a reference to 1954, the start of Algeria's war of independence)

Ali Benflis used to be Prime Minister until he was sacked by President Butaflika about a year ago. The fight between the two has split the FNL between those who support Benflis and those who support the Butaflika.

Besides Benflis, Boutaflika's main challenger is Abdallah Jaballah of the El Islah Party (National Reform Movement/Party).

About the El Islah Party ... Reuters characterizes the party as an "emerging force within the legal Islamic movement" ... while Agence France Presse characterizes Jaballah as a "radical Islamist", as does Middle East Online. There is a bit more information in this Economist article ...
The only Islamist party to have made gains in the 2002 poll [parliamentary election] was the Mouvement de la reform nationale, or Islah, the party led by Sheikh Abdallah Jaballah, which leapt ahead of its Islamist rivals to gain a remarkable 43 seats. Sheikh Jaballah is seen as a principled opposition leader, unsullied by compromises with the authorities. He was the founder of Ennahda [Islamist party] and was ousted from it early during the life of the previous parliament when he refused to join the governing coalition.

The three candidates who were not allowed to run ...

-- Ahmad Ghazali -- Prime Minister (June 1991 - Feb 1992)
-- Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi (Ahmad Taleb al-Ibraheimi) -- Former foreign minister
-- Mousa Watwati -- Chairman, Algerian National Front

A bit about Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi ...
Although President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is tipped to win another five-year term, political analysts see Ibrahimi as a strong candidate because of his support base among conservatives, and particularly among Islamic voters.

"He has a certain political weight and a certain aura with Islamic, conservative and nationalist voters. That's why observers see him as a strong outsider," Le Quotidien d'Oran, Algeria's second largest daily, said on Sunday.