The General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA), the country’s biggest union, announced on Sunday its commitment to the nomination of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a fifth term in the April 18 elections, despite popular protests rejecting his candidacy.
The UGTA’s decision was announced in a speech delivered by Secretary General, Abdelmajid Sidi Said, during the celebration of the nationalization of the fuel sector, on 24 February 1971, held in Adrar province, south of Algeria.
The ceremony was attended by Abdelmalek Salal, Bouteflika’s, 81, campaign director as well as the interior minister, Noureddine Badawi, and Mustapha Guitouni, Minister of Energy.
Said stated that the UGTA adheres with conviction to choosing Bouteflika as its presidential candidate.
He added: “For us, there is no alternative to Bouteflika. He is our first choice and has our absolute support.”
The announcement made by Algeria’s most prominent union came after the outbreak of popular protests in several provinces on Friday against the candidacy of Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999 and who has been suffering from severe health issues during the past few years.
Said indicated that Bouteflika has managed to “restore social peace in the country after the Black Decade,” in reference to the 1990’s wave of terrorism that swept through Algeria.
He addressed the attendees with the question: “Do you want to go back to the times when houses and factories were burned; to the years of blood and tears?”
“Because our answer is definitely “No” we have chosen Abdelaziz Bouteflika as our candidate”, Said continued.
Said stressed that the UGTA’s commitment to Bouteflika “also stems from the tangible achievements he succeeded to concretize at political, security, economic, and social levels.”
It is noted that the UGTA had called, at the beginning of May 2018, for the re-election of Bouteflika.