Middle East

Algeria ex-premier pulls out of presidential race

Police detain a protester during a demonstration against Algerian President Abdul-Aziz Bouteflika's decision to run for a fourth term, in Algiers March 1, 2014. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

ALGIERS: A former prime minister who had announced plans to run in Algeria's presidential election pulled out of the race Monday amid growing dissent in the country over the April vote.

Ahmed Benbitour, who served as premier from 1999 to 2000, also voiced support for a boycott of the election, in which veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is due to seek a fourth term.

In a written statement to AFP, Benbitour said the April 17 poll had already proved to be "piracy with legal backing".

"Once again in Algeria, forces of fraud, have taken over... And that is why I am withdrawing from the election," he said, referring to the government and allies of Bouteflika.

There has been growing dissent ahead of the election, which the ailing Bouteflika, who has been in power for 17 years and just turned 77, is hoping to win.

On Thursday another former premier, Mouloud Hamrouche, called for a "peaceful" change of regime in Algeria which he said needs democratic reforms.





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