- Title: ALGERIA: Algerians vote in Presidential elections
- Date: 10th April 2009
- Summary: VARIOUS OF SECURITY CHECK OUTSIDE POLLING STATION EXTERIOR OF POLLING STATION WITH POLICE
- Embargoed: 25th April 2009 13:00
- Location: Algeria
- Country: Algeria
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA1E6UK3IP6QZXT5C1INSJ84NQ8
- Story Text: Algerians take to the polls in an election that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is expected to win.
Algerians voted on Thursday (April 9) in an election that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika needs to win convincingly to show that he can re-connect with disillusioned voters and snuff out a lingering Islamist insurgency.
Bouteflika, a 72-year-old veteran of Algeria's war for independence from France, is expected to win by a big margin. But if voters stay away from the polls, that could boost opponents, including Islamists, who say the vote is a charade.
Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni said across the country of 34 million people, 48.89 percent of voters had cast their ballots by 4:30 p.m. (1530 GMT).
The Interior Ministry will announce results of the vote on Friday (April 10).
Algerian lawmakers cleared the way for Bouteflika to stand for re-election last year by abolishing constitutional term limits. Critics said that could allow him to serve as president-for-life.
Some of Bouteflika's opponents, including the leader of al Qaeda's North African wing, have urged people to stay at home, tapping into a sense among some voters that the election will do nothing to relieve widespread poverty and joblessness.
Supporters say Bouteflika deserves credit for steering Algeria, an oil and gas producer across the water from the European Union, back to stability after a civil conflict in the 1990s that killed an estimated 150,000 people.
He has promised to spend 150 billion USD on development projects and create 3 million jobs.
"We are looking for peace for ourselves and our children. Thank God that he gave us a good president," said one voter, Fatima, after casting her ballot.
But large sections of the population are disillusioned with the political process and analysts say that helps feed the Islamist insurgency that is rumbling on in Algeria.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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