Algeria's presidential campaigns kick off

The election campaigns of Algeria's presidential hopefuls kicked off across this North African country early on Sunday as the nation's presidential contenders started to personally appeal to voters in their country.

The election campaigns of Algeria's presidential hopefuls kicked off across this North African country early on Sunday as the nation's presidential contenders started to personally appeal to voters in their country.

ALGIERS – The election campaigns of Algeria's presidential hopefuls kicked off across this North African country early on Sunday as the nation's presidential contenders started to personally appeal to voters in their country.

Exceptional in this, however, is incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika whose poor health conditions is expected to keep him away from direct contact with the electorate.

Despite this, Bouteflika's campaign managers have started an active offensive to make up for his absence in the southern provinces of Adrar and Tamanrasset.

The ailing Algerian president addressed his people briefly through state TV on Saturday, saying he decided to run in the April 17 elections only in response to popular demand.

He vowed to introduce constitutional and social reforms if he is elected for a fourth term in office.

The government has specified places for the propaganda of the candidates on the streets and also promised to give them equal air time on the nation's state-run television.

Although there are five other candidates besides Bouteflika in the elections, observers expect Algeria's former prime minister Ali Benflis to be the incumbent leader's main rival.

Benflis has started his campaign by organizing a rally in the western Algerian Mascara province.

The campaigns of Algeria's presidential hopefuls are expected to last for three weeks until April 13.

There is only one female candidate in the elections, namely Louisa Hanoune, the head of the Algerian National Front. Hanoune started her presidential campaign in Annaba province, in the northwestern corner of Algeria.

Algeria's presidential race starts amid an acute political crisis in the country with opposition parties and activists stage demonstrations against Bouteflika's reelection bid.

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