President Abdulaziz Bouteflika has been Algeria’s head of state since 1999. Aged 77, he is expected to win a fifth term when votes are cast on 17 April, in spite of an election campaign most notable for his absence. Mr Bouteflika is considered to be in ill health, and spent months recovering from a stroke in a clinic in France last year.
But he has retained the support of the powerful military and security apparatus, which has kept him in power ever since he was first elected in an election that was marred by accusations of vote rigging. He is also widely credited by Algerians with ending the vicious civil war that had consumed around 150,000 lives by 2001. With memories of the bloody conflict still vivid, the appetite for civil unrest and revolution witnessed in neighbouring countries during the Arab Spring is limited in Algeria, another factor playing into the hands of the ageing and corrupt elite that Bouteflika is part of. (CONTINUED - 683 WORDS)