Eggs, protests, apathy mar Algeria’s presidential campaign

Algeria’s presidential campaign is in trouble. Candidates are struggling to fill rally venues, campaign managers have quit, voters have pelted campaign headquarters with tomatoes and eggs, and the country’s 9-month-old pro-democracy movement calls the whole thing a sham.

The five candidates seeking to replace President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the Dec. 12 election have largely failed to captivate a disillusioned public. Bouteflika was pushed out in April after 20 years in power amid an exceptional, peaceful protest movement, and now demonstrators want a wholesale change of political leadership.

Instead, the election is managed by the long-serving power structure of this oil and gas-rich country with a strategic role in the Mediterranean region. Instead of new faces, two of the candidates are former prime ministers and one is a loyalist of Algeria’s influential army chief.

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