Several hundreds people demonstrate against the presidential candidacy of Algerian incumbent president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, on March 22, 2014 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / PIERRE ANDRIEU
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Campaigning for Algeria's election opened on Sunday with the man expected to win, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, starting his race not with a speech or a mass rally, but with a letter.Backed by the Front de Liberation Nationale party, which has dominated Algerian politics since independence in 1962, and with major opposition parties boycotting the vote, Bouteflika is almost assured of another 5-year term.Loyalists see the independence veteran as a guarantor of stability, crediting him with piloting Algeria out of chaos after a 1990s civil war with Islamists in which 200,000 people were killed. Bouteflika's opponents say the dominance of a clan of FLN veterans make the election an unfair battle, and they ask how the president will govern if he cannot even campaign. Since the stroke that put him in Paris hospital for several months, Bouteflika has rarely appeared. Former prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal, who resigned to run Bouteflika's campaign, started canvassing in Algeria's south where many are still concerned about Islamist militants.
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