Bouteflika accuses Algeria election rival of ‘call to violence’

Abdelmalek Sellal, campaign director of Algerian president and presidential candidate Abdelaziz Bouteflika, delivers his speech during a rally meeting in Annaba, east of Algiers April 12, 2014.

Abdelmalek Sellal, campaign director of Algerian president and presidential candidate Abdelaziz Bouteflika, delivers his speech during a rally meeting in Annaba, east of Algiers April 12, 2014.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, seeking a fourth term in April 17 elections, accused his main rival Saturday of having called for violence during the campaign.

“When a candidate threatens walis (provisional governors) and the authorities to beware for our families and children in case of (election) fraud, what does that mean?” he asked, speaking on state television.

That’s “terrorism via the television,” said Bouteflika, referring to his chief rival Ali Benflis, who has warned against electoral fraud.

In remarks televised on Wednesday, Benflis said that “fraud is haram,” or forbidden.

“Fraud and usage of fraud is haram. I am speaking to walis: you have family, think about protecting them,” he said.

Bouteflika noted that “at certain moments,” the electoral campaign that ends Sunday has “lacked elegance.”

“There are calls to violence and unorthodox and anti-democratic behaviour,” he said.

Bouteflika, 77, has rarely appeared in public in recent months, and his decision to run for a fourth term has sparked criticism from senior political figures who have questioned his ability to rule after suffering a mini-stroke last year.

But he remains popular with many Algerians who credit him with helping to end a devastating civil war and contain Arab Spring protests.

Benflis’s aides did not immediately respond to Bouteflika’s accusations.

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