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The emerging front-runners in Algeria’s uncertain election

Four prospective candidates have the organizational support and the name recognition to launch credible campaigns on short notice.
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Despite popular pressure for a complete overhaul of Algeria's political system, the army is moving forward with the transition called for under the constitution following President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's resignation. Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, the speaker of Algeria's upper house of parliament, was sworn in April 9. He has promised elections for July 4. But can the poll even take place in the current climate?

That's the first uncertainty, as the street and army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah find themselves on opposite trajectories for the first time since protests broke out in February. As a result, security services have grown harsher while Gaid Salah has ominously accused some protest leaders of being backed by "foreign hands." Gaid Salah and the ruling class are counting on the lure of elections to divide and weaken protesters' calls for a transition outside the framework of a constitution that keeps the regime in the driver's seat. If Gaid Salah has his way, the advantage will go to politicians close to the regime, many of whom have made no secret of their presidential ambitions, who have the connections and cash to run a campaign.

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