Algerian voters went to the polls Thursday in an election marked by questions over the incumbent president\’s health and anger over his re-election bid even as he appeared poised to sail to victory.
More than 260,000 police have been deployed to protect the 50,000 polling booths opening on Thursday across Africa\’s largest country. Around 23 million Algerians have registered on the electoral roll as eligible voters in Algeria and abroad to choose between the six contesting candidates.
Bouteflika, 77, who is seeking to extend his 15-year rule despite chronic health problems, is the firm favourite.
Algeria\’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is among six candidates vying to become the next leader of the oil-rich North African nation, as voters cast ballots in Thursday\’s presidential election.
Bouteflika has made few public appearances since suffering a stroke last year. He cast his ballot Thursday from a wheelchair at an Algiers polling station.
In 2009, he captured about 90 percent of the vote.
The president has the backing of the ruling National Liberation Front Party.
In spite of his popularity, there have been sporadic protests against his re-election bid. Also, some opposition supporters called for an election boycott.
Bouteflika took power in 1999, near the end of a civil war that pitted Islamist extremists against the military-backed government.
In 2008, he amended the constitution to allow for unlimited re-election of sitting presidents.
Source : Agencies