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Algeria’s election race heats up

Algiers - Ten candidates have registered to run in Algeria's April 17 presidential election, public radio said on Wednesday, with 77-year-old incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika widely expected to win a fourth term.

The Constitutional Council has 10 days to examine the applications of the candidates before announcing the final list of contenders who will compete in the campaign, which is set to begin on March 23.

Former prime minister Ali Benflis speaks to the media during his registration for April's election at the Constitutional Council in Algiers, on March 4, 2014. Picture: Ramzi Boudina. Credit: Reuters

Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999, made a rare public appearance on Monday to drop off the papers for his candidacy for a fourth term.

He also confirmed his candidacy on television, the first time he has spoken in public since returning from hospital treatment in Paris in July last year after suffering a mini-stroke.

Ali Benflis, a former prime minister who is seen as Bouteflika's main challenger, also dropped off the papers to run on Tuesday but warned against the possibility of electoral fraud, speaking of “low, dirty and cowardly practices that cast doubts on the credibility of the presidential election”.

But another hopeful, Mohamed Benhamou, on Tuesday criticised such remarks, saying they amounted to “calls to civil disobedience aimed at sowing disorder”, national news agency APS said.

Benhamou said if his candidacy was rejected, he would support Bouteflika because he represents “security and stability”.

Other candidates include Moussa Touati of the Algerian National Front, Abdelaziz Belaid of the El-Moustakbel Front, head of the Algerian Rally Ali Zaghdoud, and Louisa Hanoune of the Workers Party. - Sapa-AFP

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