Algeria’s Islamist Parties Agree to Back Single Candidate

Article Summary
To strengthen their position in the upcoming presidential elections, Algeria’s Islamist parties have agreed to put forth a single candidate.

Three Algerian Islamist parties have agreed on naming one candidate to run in the next presidential elections. The parties affirmed that they will contribute effectively to the next elections and will not serve as mere “decoration” in a competition whose results have already been determined in favor of the ruling parties.

A source from the Green Algeria Alliance — which encompasses the Movement for the Society of Peace, the Islamic Renaissance Movement and the Movement for National Reform — noted that the agreement between the three parties in regard to the next presidential elections includes agreeing on a single candidate. The source told Al-Hayat that the three parties will hold in-depth discussions regarding the prospective candidate, who “will later be the subject of discussions to be held with national and liberal parties.” The second option is “naming a figure that represents each party separately, while the third option is boycotting the elections.”

The supporters of the Islamist movement strive to mobilize support for the candidate that will replace President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. For this purpose, the leaders of Islamist parties are visiting all the Algerian provinces to set forth a comprehensive reform project. This step is proving to be a relief for the ruling parties, since there is still the possibility of uncontested elections. Having an Islamist competitor, however, will give the spring 2014 presidential elections an air of credibility.

Abdul Qadir Bin Saleh, leader of the National Rally for Democracy, recently leveled criticism on the role of Islamists related to their parties' mobilization, which is being accepted by the ruling parties. Following the disappointment the Islamist movement endured in parliamentary and provincial elections, the leadership of the three parties is trying to revive this movement again before reaching out to the Front for Change, which is affiliated for its part with the Islamist movement as well.

The rapprochement between leading members of the Algerian Islamist movement, which has been ongoing for months, reflects a strong will to introduce an Islamic project into the political equation. Additionally, it demonstrates the Islamist movement’s desire to become a key player in the presidential elections.

In an uncommon initiative, the secular Rally for Culture and Democracy noted that its leader, Mohcine Belabbas, and other leading members met a delegation from the Islamic Renaissance Movement at the party’s headquarters. The party's statement mentioned that the one-hour meeting with Islamic Renaissance Movement Secretary-General Fateh Rabii was dedicated to discussing internal political affairs.

What is worth noting about the current political activity is that the Islamist movement is strenuously inclined toward finding a common ground with national powers. The movement has a strong desire to establish a joint alliance during the next presidential elections. All of this is happening in tandem with the absence of the ruling parties, namely the National Liberation Front and the National Rally for Democracy, which are occupied with internal problems pertaining to their leadership. It is important to note that the rapprochement between Islamists and liberals started with the amendment of the constitution and aims to establish a national constituent assembly or draft a consensual constitution. Both of these options require a popular referendum.

Meanwhile, the parties affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood are trying to attract a fifth component — the National Building Movement, which has until now refrained from forming ideological alliances.

Found in: islamists, islamist, algeria, abdelaziz bouteflika

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