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Algerian Islamist leader denied candidacy in presidential election

The former deputy leader of Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front, Shaikh Ali Binhaj, has accused the authorities of denying him the opportunity to stand as a candidate for the presidential election. He had announced his intention to stand for president but claims to have been locked out of the building when he went to the Ministry of the Interior to collect a candidature form.

"I submitted the request to the Interior Ministry and was told to wait in the hall," Shaikh Binhaj told Turkey's Anadolu news agency. "I waited for a long time but got nowhere. I left the building for something and when I went to go back in I was denied access."

The FIS official said that he had decided to stand in the election after hearing that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika plans to stand for a fourth term. "A fourth term threatens the country's security," he claimed. "The people do not want to live in a police state. Those who back Bouteflika's candidacy fear he might throw them in prison… The Algerian people are victims of the country's squabbling factions."

Shaikh Binhaj insists that the law on national reconciliation in Article VI of the constitution allows him, as an Algerian citizen, to stand in the election whether President Bouteflika decides to stand for office again or not. He assured voters that, if elected, he will work to change some of the Islamic Salvation Front programmes and principles that could benefit the Algerian people in line with modern society.

"I am confident that I can collect two million signatures and not just the 60,000 signatures required to approve my candidacy application," he said. "I will run my campaign according to the law and will not use mosques and other places where assembly is prohibited during a campaign." Binhaj urged the Algerian people to register themselves on the electoral lists and decide whether they are going to participate, support someone or boycott the election.

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