As Algerian leader ails, would-be challengers eye election

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) – A record number of candidates want to run for Algerian president in April’s election, amid growing uncertainty about whether ailing incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika is fit for a fifth term.

A total of 186 people have requested documents to declare their candidacy since the electoral process began last month. That’s more than double the number of potential candidates at this stage in the last vote in 2014.

Most won’t get the signatures necessary to appear on the April 18 ballot.

But the multitude of potential candidates suggests frustration with the status quo and Algeria’s political structure.

The 82-year-old Bouteflika, who has led Algeria for 20 years, is expected to announce his candidacy soon despite the fact that a 2013 stroke left him speaking and moving with difficulty. He is rarely seen in public.

A man walks past a poster asking citizens to register to vote in Algiers. – AP