ALGIERS – Despite his failing health, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika won a fourth term last month, with 81% of the vote – or so the regime claimed. In fact, far from signaling growing political stability, the 77-year-old incumbent’s sham victory underscores just how few options Algerians have to effect change from within the system.
Under Bouteflika’s leadership, Algeria’s government has failed to address the country’s most pressing economic and social challenges. And there is no reason to expect this to change. Since suffering a stroke last year, Bouteflika has barely appeared in public, whether to campaign ahead of the vote or to acknowledge his victory after it.