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Bouteflika’s supporters set stage for presidential campaign

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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika arrives for the inauguration of a mosque and the extension of the Algiers metro, in the capital Algiers - AFP

Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) has launched a campaign to collect 60,000 signatures in line with the electoral law to announce the candidacy of the party’s leader President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for the April 18 elections.

FLN member Mouad Bouchareb is seeking to swiftly collect the signatures of party members, who are estimated to be in the tens of thousands, as well as 600 members of parliament and state and municipal councils, one of two options given by the law to those wishing to run for the presidential elections.

Observers believe that the swift collection of the signatures is an indication that Bouteflika wants to stand for a fifth term. 

The Democratic National Alliance, led by Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, will hold its National Assembly Thursday to discuss the nomination of the President.

The Alliance’s spokesman, Shehab Siddiq, indicated that the issue has been settled for months, and the party appealed to the President to run for another term because it believes the country still needs him in his position.

He told Asharq al-Awsat that the Alliance would launch the electoral campaign once the President announces his candidacy.

The Algerian Popular Movement (MPA), led by former Minister of Commerce Amara Benyounes, will also convene its National Assembly on Friday.

This party is a staunch supporter of Bouteflika. However, unlike the rest of pro-government parties, Benyounes refused to discuss the President’s possible candidacy for a fifth term, as long as Bouteflika hasn’t announced it yet.

Party sources indicated that the National Assembly meeting will conclude by recommending the President to run for elections.

In 2014, FLN loyalist parties, began campaigning for the President’s fourth mandate two months prior to the elections, with the same state of anticipation regarding Bouteflika’s willingness to remain in his position.

Since 2013, the President has been on a wheelchair and unable to speak. However, it seems that his health conditions are not an issue for his supporters.

On the other hand, retired Major General Ali Ghadiri is showing great determination to compete with Bouteflika, taking advantage of the support of a large number of intellectuals, media professionals and former military personnel who meet him regularly.

Ghadiri chose renowned lawyer Muqrin Ait El-Arabi as his campaign manager. Playwright and journalist Ayashi Ahmeda was tasked with campaigning for him in the media inside and outside the country.

Earlier this month, the retired commander appealed to Army Chief of Staff Gaid Salah to run against Bouteflika.

Saleh responded by threatening to revoke Ghadiri’s military rank, expressing strong loyalty to the President.

Political Science Professor Mohammad Hanad explained that Ghadiri hinted that the military is still in power, and chooses the president, protects and supports him, even if the leadership of the armed forces says its impartial.

He pointed out that since Algeria’s independence, the military leadership has strong political decision-making and the Algerian public considers the army the country’s de facto ruler.

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Egypt will always support Haftar’s army forces -Sisi

According to Sisi, Egypt is supporting “the legitimacy of Libya represented in the country’s House of Representatives.”

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Egypt will always support Haftar’s army forces -Sisi | News Central TV
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said yesterday, that Egypt will always support the Libyan troops loyal to the General Khalifa Haftar.

Following his meeting with the Libyan parliament speaker Aqilah Saleh in Cairo the Egyptian capital, Sisi said, “Egypt’s position on supporting the Libyan National Army in its campaign to eliminate terrorist groups across Libya will never change.”

Saleh is currently on an indefinite visit to Cairo where he is holding meetings with Egyptian officials.

Sisi noted that his country was supporting what he described as “the legitimacy of Libya represented in the country’s House of Representatives,” stressing that the will of Libyans “must be respected.”

During a meeting in Tunisia on Wednesday, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia called for “an immediate ceasefire,” adding that there was “no military solution to the crisis in Libya.”

In April, Haftar forces launched a military campaign to capture Tripoli from the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Haftar’s campaign has, thus far, failed to achieve its primary objective, even after several weeks of fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli. Nevertheless, Haftar’s forces remain deployed in several areas around the capital.

Libya has witnessed serious political unrest since 2011 when long-time leader, Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a bloody NATO-backed uprising after four decades in power.

Two rival seats of power have since emerged in the country, the Tripoli-based GNA, which enjoys UN recognition, and the other one on the eastern part of the country, which is affiliated to Haftar.

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North Africa

Sudan: Omar al-Bashir to face trial over corruption allegations

Last month, Sudan’s public prosecutor ordered the questioning of Bashir over money-laundering and “financing terrorism”.

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Omar al Bashir to face trial over corruption allegations | News Central TV
Ousted Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Sudan’s public prosecutor has charged ousted president Omar al-Bashir of corruption, the official SUNA news agency said on Thursday.

The announcement came more than two month after the military ousted Bashir on April 11 following months of nationwide protests against his 30-year iron-fisted rule.

“The public prosecutor announces the completion of all investigations in the case brought against the deposed president Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir by anti-corruption prosecutors,” SUNA said.

An unnamed official was quoted by the agency as saying that Bashir is facing charges including “possessing foreign funds, acquiring suspected and illegal wealth and ordering (the state of) emergency”.

In April, Sudan’s army ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said that more than 113 million dollars worth of cash in three currencies had been seized from Bashir’s residence.

He said a team of police, army and security agents found seven million euros ($7.8 million), $350,000 and five billion Sudanese pounds ($105 million) during a search at Bashir’s home. 

Bashir swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989. 

Sudan suffered high rates of corruption under his rule ranking 172 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Last month, Sudan’s public prosecutor ordered the questioning of Bashir over money-laundering and “financing terrorism”.

In an effort to quell protests that erupted against his rule in December, Bashir had imposed a nationwide state of emergency on February 22.

In May the prosecutor general said that Bashir had been charged over the killings of protesters during the anti-regime demonstrations that led to the end of his rule.

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Algeria detains second ex-Prime Minister in anti-corruption probe

Abdelmalek Sellal served as Bouteflika’s campaign manager, overseeing the president’s past three successful re-election bids.

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Algeria detains second ex-Prime Minister in graft probe | News Central TV
Algerian ex-Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal. (Photo by Farouk Batiche / AFP)

Algeria’s former Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal was remanded in custody Thursday after appearing before a judge as part of an anti-corruption investigation, state media reported.

The supreme court decision against the ally of ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika comes a day after another former premier, Ahmed Ouyahia, was also remanded in custody.

Related: Algeria: Bouteflika’s brother, 2 ex-spy bosses arrested

Algeria detains second ex-Prime Minister in corruption probe
A Protester is pushed back by policemen as Algeria’s former prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal is driven to custody at the El Harrach prison in the suburbs of the capital Algiers, on June 13, 2019. -(Photo by – / AFP)

The two politicians are among numerous high-profile figures to be drawn into graft probes since Bouteflika was forced to step down in April following weeks of mass protests.

Sellal served as Bouteflika’s campaign manager, overseeing the president’s past three successful re-election bids. 

He was sacked in March amid mounting public opposition to an attempt to place Bouteflika on the ballot again despite the veteran president’s ailing health.

Related: Algeria finance minister questioned in fraud probe -state TV

On Thursday, private channel, El Bilad broadcast footage of crowds waiting for Sellal’s arrival outside El Harrach prison, in an eastern suburb of the capital, Algiers.

Both Sellal and Ouyahia are being held over cases relating to the misappropriation of public funds, abuse of office and granting undue privileges, according to the official APS news agency.

A former public works minister, Abdelghani Zaalane, also appeared before a supreme court judge on Wednesday and was released under judicial supervision, state media reported.

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