Algerian presidential candidate and leader of the Democratic National Rally party (RND), Azzedine Mihoubi vowed to introduce “deep reform” in the judiciary if he wins the December 12 vote.
In an interview to Asharq Al-Awsat, he stressed that his party’s ties to the former regime should not be an impediment for his running for the presidency.
He also rejected accusations that he is “morally and politically” unfit to run in the elections because he had twice served as minister in governments under ousted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s rule.
Several members of the former regime have been accused of corruption and popular anti-regime protests have been demanding that such figures be barred from political life.
Bouteflika resigned in April, succumbing to weeks of massive demonstrations that had erupted over his decision to run for a fifth term in office. Following his departure, several officials from his former regime have been charged with corruption.
The protests have continued, with the people demanding the overhaul of the country’s entire political elite.
Mihoubi, 60, rejected the claim. “Not everyone should be placed in the same basket.”
The party, he continued, performs revisions to rid itself of improper and irregular practices.
“Had I committed any violation or had I been involved in corruption, do you believe I would allow myself to even ask the Algerians to elect me as president?” he wondered. “This is unacceptable.”
Commenting on the people’s rejection of the upcoming elections and the possibility of a low turnout, he said the country is passing through a “difficult” phase that needs to be addressed by state institutions.
“A country of Algeria’s size and global standing cannot remain without a president,” said Mihoubi.
He noted that the mass protests that started on February 22 have abated since Bouteflika stepped down and after several officials were charged with corruption. The people’s demands would not have been met without the army’s responsible stances.
The military has announced from day one of the protests that it stands by the people, Mihoubi stressed.
He justified the presidential elections, saying they were preceded by national dialogue and amendments to the electoral laws and electoral process. An electoral commission was also set up.
“Some parties believe that this step is insufficient and they are calling for a transitional period. Algeria had experienced transitional periods that had led the country towards undemocratic situations,” he remarked, citing the tenures of presidents Houari Boumédiène and Chadli Bendjedid.
“I personally prefer turning to the people who will choose the country’s way forward, instead of restoring to a transitional period, whose direction is unknown,” he added.
Five candidates, including two former prime ministers under Bouteflika, have been selected to run in the presidential poll, the country's constitutional council confirmed Saturday.
Mihoubi is vying for the presidency alongside former prime ministers Ali Benflis and Abdelmadjid Tebboune, both considered the front-runners, former tourism minister Abdelkader Bengrina, whose party backed Bouteflika, and Abdelaziz Belaid, who belongs to a youth organization that supported the former president.
Campaigning for the elections kicks off on November 17.