Algerian television has broadcast footage showing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika casting his vote in the presidential election from a wheelchair. He has been sick since suffering from a stroke in March 2013. The president is a candidate for what could be his fourth term in office.
Voters started going to the polling stations on Thursday to choose a new president amid major security concerns. There has been a heavy police and intelligence presence on the main streets of the capital, Algiers, which were very quiet; Thursday was a public holiday.
More than 22 million Algerians are eligible to vote, according to the Minister of the Interior Tayeb Belaiz. Around 46,000 polling stations were open all over the country.
There are six candidates vying to be president, including Bouteflika, who has ruled for 15 years; Ali Benflis, who served as prime minister from 1999 to 2004 and is regarded as the main contender; and the leader of the Workers’ Party, Louisa Hanoun, who is standing for the third time. The other three candidates, who do not have a large popular base, are Ali Fawzi Rabaen, Moussa Touati and Al-Taher Belaid. These three are calling for regime change.