Pictures of Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, hang over a street in the center of Algiers on April 15, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/PATRICK BAZ)
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Boycotting is the main form of protest against an election that 77-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is expected to win despite his glaring absence, because powerful institutions of the state are firmly wedded to maintaining Algeria's status quo.Bouteflika made no appearances in the three-week campaign, leaving it to his ministers and close associates to rally interest in his re-election.Bouteflika changed the constitution in 2008 so that he could remain president, but a fourth term might be a step too far even for a country that was barely affected by the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings. While heavy state spending has dropped unemployment to less than 10 percent, it is still at 25 percent for young people."I offer an alternative, a new project and I want to put the youth into the center of decision-making," he told the Associated Press.He described how he visited all 48 provinces in the country and logged more than 100 hours of air travel in the course of the campaign – in contrast to Bouteflika's inactivity.
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