One week after the application process opened for the presidential election in Algeria due to be held on 18 April, more than 100 potential candidates have submitted their papers. This is an unprecedented number in the country.
According to the Ministry of the Interior website, as of Saturday evening it had received 101 applications from 13 heads of political parties and 88 independent candidates. Most of the applicants are prominent in Algerian politics.
In 2014, when observers described the election as “settled” in favour of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika who was standing for a fourth term, there were more than 80 applicants. The Constitutional Council then approved six candidates after studying the applications.
Among the possible candidates on this occasion are Abdelaziz Belaid, the head of the Front El-Moustakbal party; the leader of the Society of Peace, Abderrazak Makri; and Abdelkader Ben Grina, the head of El-Binaa El-Watani.
Algerian electoral law requires presidential candidate to obtain 60,000 signatures of citizens across the country’s various provinces, or 600 signatures of locally elected municipal and provincial officials or from the two chambers of parliament.
Bouteflika, 81, who has been ruling Algeria since 1999, has not yet announced if he will run for a fifth term, nor has he responded to repeated calls from his supporters to stay in power. His decision is expected to be a major turning point in the election process. The deadline for this will be midnight on 3 March, by which time all potential candidates must have submitted their applications to run in the election.