FILE PHOTO: Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen in Algiers, Algeria April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina/File Photo
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers last April. Ramzi Boudina / Reuters

Algerians hold little hope of change in this year's elections – but it will mean the beginning of the end for Bouteflika

Politics in Algeria has always been opaque, with the winner of every presidential election appointed by "le pouvoir", or "the power" – a shadowy group of kingmakers made up of army officials, business tycoons and intelligence. This process first began with the election of colonel Chadli Benjedid in February 1979 and has continued throughout the 20-year presidency of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

But now, after months of wrangling and squabbling, these power brokers cannot reach a consensus regarding his future. So in a suspected liar's poker move, they have decided to hold a presidential election on April 18, 2019.

However, an enigma remains. The authorities have not indicated so far whether Algeria's frail president will stand for a fifth consecutive term. Mr Bouteflika’s decision will determine this election’s credibility.

Although the ruling coalition and the regime’s backers have been urging him to run again, the opposition –both Islamist and secular – do not think he is fit to do so.

Mr Bouteflika, 81, who has been paraplegic since suffering a stroke in 2013, only makes rare public appearances. He last addressed the nation more than six years ago and has travelled extensively to France and Switzerland to undergo medical treatment.

He has yet to announce his candidacy but according to the Algerian constitution, he has until March 4 to say whether he wants to seek a fifth term. Not that this is any indicator that he won’t run; in the 2014 election, he waited until the last few days before announcing his candidacy.

Ordinary Algerians are under no illusion that this marks any kind of change and are already anticipating Mr Bouteflika will emerge victorious if he decides to run again. However, if he does stand, it will be his last term. He will have to step down in 2024 after a two-term presidency cap was reintroduced in 2016.

More than 40 per cent of Algeria's 42 million-strong population are under the age of 25. Many know no other president than Mr Bouteflika. And when Amar Ghoul, a former cabinet minister, can shamelessly declare on television that the presidential election is “an affair of state”, the die, it seems, is already cast.

For Abdallah Djaballah, president of the opposition party El Adala, this election is a "big sham". Besides the serious concerns about his health, many opposition leaders question the achievements of a 20-year rule marked by corruption, nepotism, the absence of civil and political liberties, large-scale embezzlement, high unemployment and economic woes.

Despite the abundance of natural resources such as oil and gas – which account for 60 per cent of the budget and 94 per cent of export revenue – as well as phosphates and uranium, Algeria is grappling with systemic corruption and poor governance. The rising cost of living is another major challenge. And with the abrupt drop in oil prices after June 2014, the country's state-controlled economic model is failing and the government cannot preserve its subsidy programmes to maintain peace.

A 2018 World Bank report said social discontent, a government spending freeze, tax hikes and high unemployment posed a "substantial risk" to the country's economic future.

Whoever emerges victorious from the 2019 election faces the challenge of restoring the image of Algeria on the world stage as a symbol of the anti-colonial struggle for independence, as well as working hard and fast to diversify the economy, enliven a lethargic political system, launch a genuine democratic process, develop the tourism industry, increase stability not stagnation and significantly contribute to regional security.

So far, the 74-year old ex-prime minister Ali Benflis has announced his intention to run for president. He challenged Mr Bouteflika in vain in 2004 and again in 2014, when he denounced the ballot as “a rape of sovereignty”.

The first official candidate to throw his hat into the ring is the retired general Ali Ghediri, who has boosted his image with a series of interviews recently. In a discussion with the daily El Watan last month, he lambasted the two pillars of the Algerian system, Mr Bouteflika and his chief of staff Gaid Salah. He also criticised rumours that the election could be deferred and Mr Bouteflika's mandate prolonged and demanded that the army intervene.

These comments earned him a slap on the wrist from the chief of staff but huge support from the public. Some observers think he is a change-maker bringing hope for younger generations.

But if Mr Bouteflika decides to run, the status quo will be upheld – for now, at least.

Dr Abdelkader Cheref is an independent scholar based in the US


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Starring: Baraa Alem, Nour Alkhadra, Alanoud Saud

Rating: 3/5

Which products are to be taxed?

To be taxed:

Flavoured water, long-life fruit juice concentrates, pre-packaged sweetened coffee drinks fall under the ‘sweetened drink’ category

Not taxed

Freshly squeezed fruit juices, ground coffee beans, tea leaves and pre-prepared flavoured milkshakes do not come under the ‘sweetened drink’ band.

Products excluded from the ‘sweetened drink’ category would contain at least 75 per cent milk in a ready-to-drink form or as a milk substitute, baby formula, follow-up formula or baby food, beverages consumed for medicinal use and special dietary needs determined as per GCC Standardisation Organisation rules


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Richarlison 13'), Sigurdsson 28', ​​​​​​​Digne 56', Walcott 64'

Manchester United 0

Man of the match: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)


Perera (capt), Mendis, Gunathilaka, de Silva, Nissanka, Shanaka, Bandara, Hasaranga, Udana, Dananjaya, Dickwella, Chameera, Mendis, Fernando, Sandakan, Karunaratne, Fernando, Fernando.

Sweet Tooth

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Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
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The specs

Powertrain: Single electric motor
Power: 201hp
Torque: 310Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto
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Touring range: 350km (GS); 480km (GF)
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Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
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0-100km/h: 3.0sec
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Syria 1-1 Australia

Syria Al Somah 85'

Australia Kruse 40'


Centre Court

Starting at 2pm:

Elina Svitolina (UKR) [3] v Jennifer Brady (USA)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) v Belinda Bencic (SUI [4]

Not before 7pm:

Sofia Kenin (USA) [5] v Elena Rybakina (KAZ)

Maria Sakkari (GRE) v Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) [7]


Court One

Starting at midday:

Karolina Muchova (CZE) v Katerina Siniakova (CZE)

Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) v Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)

Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) v Dayana Yastermska (UKR)

Petra Martic (CRO) [8] v Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE)

Sorana Cirstea (ROU) v Anett Kontaveit (EST)

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
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Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through and

Need to know

The flights: Flydubai flies from Dubai to Kilimanjaro airport via Dar es Salaam from Dh1,619 return including taxes. The trip takes 8 hours. 

The trek: Make sure that whatever tour company you select to climb Kilimanjaro, that it is a reputable one. The way to climb successfully would be with experienced guides and porters, from a company committed to quality, safety and an ethical approach to the mountain and its staff. Sonia Nazareth booked a VIP package through Safari Africa. The tour works out to $4,775 (Dh17,538) per person, based on a 4-person booking scheme, for 9 nights on the mountain (including one night before and after the trek at Arusha). The price includes all meals, a head guide, an assistant guide for every 2 trekkers, porters to carry the luggage, a cook and kitchen staff, a dining and mess tent, a sleeping tent set up for 2 persons, a chemical toilet and park entrance fees. The tiny ration of heated water provided for our bath in our makeshift private bathroom stall was the greatest luxury. A standard package, also based on a 4-person booking, works out to $3,050 (Dh11,202) per person.

When to go: You can climb Kili at any time of year, but the best months to ascend  are  January-February and September-October.  Also good are July and August, if you’re tolerant of the colder weather that winter brings.

Do not underestimate the importance of kit. Even if you’re travelling at a relatively pleasant time, be geared up for the cold and the rain.

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Indoor Cricket World Cup – Sep 16-20, Insportz, Dubai

16 Indoor cricket matches are 16 overs per side

8 There are eight players per team

9 There have been nine Indoor Cricket World Cups for men. Australia have won every one.

5 Five runs are deducted from the score when a wickets falls

4 Batsmen bat in pairs, facing four overs per partnership

Scoring In indoor cricket, runs are scored by way of both physical and bonus runs. Physical runs are scored by both batsmen completing a run from one crease to the other. Bonus runs are scored when the ball hits a net in different zones, but only when at least one physical run is score.


A Front net, behind the striker and wicketkeeper: 0 runs

B Side nets, between the striker and halfway down the pitch: 1 run

C Side nets between halfway and the bowlers end: 2 runs

D Back net: 4 runs on the bounce, 6 runs on the full

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Started: May 2018

Founder: Arjun Mohan

Based: Dubai

Size: 23 employees 

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In 2018, the ICRC received 27,756 trace requests in the Middle East alone. The global total was 45,507.


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