File - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika listening to his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma (unseen) during a press conference at the presidential palace in Algiers, May 25, 2010. (AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE)
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Algeria Friday formally set its next presidential election for April 17, but three months before what could be one of the most important votes in the country's history, no one is sure who is running.Algeria has always been run by the generation that fought in the 1958-62 war for independence against France. Once the world's youngest foreign minister in the 1960s, Bouteflika took the presidency in 1999, and has dominated the country in the 15 years since. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb had been soundly beaten by Bouteflika.Algeria's oil and gas production, which furnishes some 70 percent of budget revenue and 98 percent of the export earnings, has been dropping for years.If Bouteflika were to run, he would undoubtedly win, with the support of two pro-government parties and the machinery of the state.That would also mean that Algeria would avoid major changes.
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