France has accepted Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth term, citing the lack of viable alternatives to lead the country.
France agreed to Bouteflika’s fifth term after intensive talks at the highest levels, but only did so “with reservations”. A French intelligence site reported a source close to the French government as saying that Paris had accepted Bouteflika’s candidacy only after failing to find a replacement to the ailing president.
Algerian Prime Minister and leader of the National Rally for Democracy, Ahmed Ouyahia, was deemed incapable of replacing Bouteflika, given that he would not have been able to achieve consensus within the Algerian army’s supreme command.
According to the source, French intelligence has warned that Ouyahia’s presidential victory could provoke a military coup, as conditions for a peaceful transition of power have not yet been achieved in Algeria.
The French site added that the French ambassador to Algeria, Xavier Driencourt, has intensified meetings this year in an attempt to resolve the issue of Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth term. In remarks to the Elysee Palace – the seat of the French Presidency – Driencourt recommended support for Bouteflika’s presidential bid in the hope that a more suitable competitor to the 81-year-old eventually emerges.
France stressed the need to take precautions, as French diplomats fear the sudden death of Bouteflika or any further deterioration in his health.
Secretary-General of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, is said to have advised French President Emmanuel Macron to pressure the Algerians to appoint a vice president who would fill the power vacuum in case something happened to Bouteflika.