Algerian presidential candidate Ali Benflis stated that he chose to run in the elections for a third time after “carefully assessing” the situation in the country and all possible solutions to its current crisis.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “Of all the hypothetical solutions, the presidential elections are the most reasonable and realistic.”
The polls are scheduled for December 12 amid the objection of popular protesters, who say they will keep in power a political elite rejected by the people.
Contrary to observers, who claim the polls are miscalculated, Benflis believes that the “miscalculation lies in leaving the country floundering in its exceptionally dangerous crisis.”
Algeria was plunged in crisis after president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April, yielding to popular protests objecting against his run for a fifth term in office. The rallies have persisted, demanding an overhaul of the political system and an end to corruption.
Benflis, 75, held the post of premier under Bouteflika from 2000 to 2003. He ran for president in 2004 and 2014, twice failing against Bouteflika.
On allegations that the ruling regime would not be holding elections without guaranteeing the victory of its candidate, he told Asharq Al-Awsat that authorities previously used to impose their nominee on the people and political parties and exert pressure on the media to advocate this figure.
“This time around, it appears that the authorities have yet to take such measures in favor of a single candidate,” he remarked.
The authorities seem to have distanced themselves from the organization of the elections and tasked this mission to the independent electoral commission, he explained. The commission was set up strictly to ensure the transparency of the elections.
“If developments continue along this path, then Algeria is in store for the election of its first ever legitimate president and through a promising democratic way,” he said.
On his rival candidate, former prime minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Benflis stated: “One of the reasons I am running is to impede his victory” and intention to impose the fifth Bouteflika term that was aborted by the people.
“The people want complete change and this demands that they bid farewell to the old regime, which should be relegated to the history books,” he continued.
The upcoming elections are an opportunity to permanently eliminate this regime and replace it with a state of law and rights that the people have longed for, he said.
Benflis and Tebboune are considered front-runners in next month’s elections. They are vying for the presidency alongside former tourism minister Abdelkader Bengrina, whose party backed Bouteflika, head of the Front El Moustakbel (Future Front) party, Abdelaziz Belaid, and leader of the Democratic National Rally party (RND), Azzedine Mihoubi.