Algeria’s Bouteflika poised to win re-election

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With the dominant National Liberation Front (FLN) party, allied movements and unions behind him, many Algerians believe Bouteflika, 77, is almost assured of victory and another five years governing the North African OPEC state.

Algeria is seen as a partner in Washington‘s campaign against Islamist militancy in the Maghreb and a stable supplier of around a fifth of Europe’s gas imports.

“No country is 100 percent good, but the things he has done, he has done well,” said Abdessaid Said, a retired technician who voted for Bouteflika in AlgiersBab El Oued district.

“I know he is ill, but I vote for him for what he has done for us. And he can still govern.”

Loyalists portray Bouteflika as the man who helped stabilize Algeria after a war with Islamist militants in the 1990s that killed around 200,000 people.

Bouteflika, a veteran of Algeria’s war of independence, won the 2009 election with 90 percent of the vote.

Police on Wednesday broke up a small rally by an anti-government movement called “Barakat”, or “Enough”, which is calling for peaceful change with rare public protests.

The outcome of the vote is being closely watched by Western governments as Algeria is seen as a partner in Washington’s campaign against Islamist militancy in North Africa and as a stable gas supplier to Europe.

Results are expected at the earliest on Friday (April 18).

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