Algerian presidential candidate Ali Benflis (C) waves to the crowd before delivering a speech during his campaigning in the northern city of Batna on April 5, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FAROUK BATICHE
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At a packed sports hall in western Algeria, portraits of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika gaze down on supporters rallying for his re-election.Throughout campaigning for the April 17 polls, Bouteflika has remained mostly out of the public eye apart from brief television appearances, as he has done since falling ill. For now, Bouteflika is campaigning by proxy. With his former prime minister and allies crisscrossing Algeria in his name, the 77-year-old independence veteran is almost assured of a fourth term after 15 years leading the nation. They promise that Bouteflika, who is credited with ending a civil war in the 1990s between the state and domestic Islamist militants, can keep Algeria stable. Opponents dismiss Bouteflika's bid as the last breath of the old guard from the ruling Front de Liberation Nationale party (FLN) which has dominated Algerian politics since 1962 independence from France.In Chlef, many still credit Bouteflika with making Algeria more stable, peaceful and rich.The five main opposition candidates running against Bouteflika seem to have little hope in a political system critics say has hardly changed since independence, and is still dominated by the FLN and its network of allied parties.
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