The five candidates are seen by some as part of the same ruling elite that has ruled AlgeriaAfrica Latest News 

Protest city shunned by most Algerian candidates

Campaigning has officially started for the 12 December presidential election in Algeria – but on the first day all but one of the five candidates chose to stay away from the capital, Algiers – the city where opposition to the poll is strongest.

Opposition activists have dismissed the contest, arguing that those in the running are part of the same ruling elite headed for two decades by former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign in April aged 82 amid massive street protests.

But army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, the de facto man in charge of the country, has insisted the polls go ahead as soon as possible.

The two front-runners are Ali Benflis and Abdelmadjid Tebboune – both former prime ministers.

Mr Benflis started his campaign in the western city of Tlemcen, hometown to the Bouteflika family, where he was booed.

Mr Tebboune, along with candidates Azzedine Mihoubi and Abdelaziz Belaid, headed south the meet voters in the North African nation’s Saharan provinces, where the protests have been much less intense.

The only candidate to appear in the capital was Abdelkader Bengrina, a former minister:

He stood in front of the post office, where the protesters gather every Friday calling for a boycott of the election, to speak to his supporters for a short time.


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