Bouteflika decision to run again stirs mixed reactions in Algiers press

An Algerian reads a newspaper at a bus station next to a banner showing the Algerian flag with a portrait of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in the capital Algiers on February 11, 2019, as the country prepares for the upcoming presidential election scheduled for April 18. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2019
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Bouteflika decision to run again stirs mixed reactions in Algiers press

  • The 81-year-old head of state on Sunday announced will run for another term in April polls

ALGIERS: Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to seek a fifth term as president despite his ailing health stirred mixed reactions on Monday in the Algerian press, with one newspaper describing it as risky as “Russian roulette” and another welcoming his pledge of reforms.
The 81-year-old head of state, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, on Sunday announced will run for another term in April polls.
He spoke of an “unwavering desire to serve” despite his health constraints and pledged to set up an “inclusive national conference” to address political and economic reforms.
“A frightening candidacy,” headlined the French-language El-Watan newspaper on its front page.
It compared Bouteflika’s determination to stay in power to a game of “Russian roulette,” running a cartoon of the ailing president as a single bullet in the chamber of a handgun.
A fifth mandate for Bouteflika “will only serve to aggravate the woes resulting from his previous mandates,” wrote El-Watan.
It said his campaign chief Abdelmalek Sellal would have to work hard “to persuade Algerians to vote for a practically bedridden man” although his duties call on him to travel and work long hours.
In contrast, Reporters, another daily, welcomed the president’s pledge to bring in “deep reforms” saying it could accommodate opposition demands for change.
The TSA news website said it was clear that Bouteflika “despite his age and his illness.. has no intention of” quitting as president despite a “thirst for change” in Algeria.
“This fifth mandate is one too many,” it said.
The French-language Liberte said Bouteflika had dangled the promise of reforms as a payoff for staying on for another five years.
Bouteflika’s widely expected announcement also had a mixed reception on the streets of Algiers.
Housewife Aicha Zaidi said she would vote for Bouteflika because “thanks to him I have decent housing for my family.”
But Hamid Bramimi, 75, said that Algeria had become “the laughing stock of the world with a president who is invisible.”


Erdogan: Turkey’s S-400 missile systems purchase from Russia ‘done deal’

Updated 39 min 39 sec ago
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Erdogan: Turkey’s S-400 missile systems purchase from Russia ‘done deal’

ANKARA: Turkey will not turn back from its deal to buy S-400 missile systems from Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Saturday, a day after an informal deadline Washington set for Ankara to respond to a rival offer passed.
NATO member Turkey has repeatedly said it is committed to buying the Russian missile defense system, despite warnings from the US-led alliance that the S-400s cannot be integrated into the NATO air defense system.
US officials had set an informal deadline of February 15 for Ankara to respond to the rival US offer and have said that if Turkey proceeds with the S-400 purchase, Washington will withdraw its offer to sell a $3.5 billion Raytheon Co. Patriot missile package.
They have also said it would jeopardize Turkey’s purchase of Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 fighter jets and possibly result in the United States imposing sanctions.
However, speaking to reporters on the flight back from the Russian resort of Sochi, where a three-way summit on Syria between Turkey, Russia and Iran was held, Erdogan said Ankara would press on with the S-400 purchases.
“We made the S-400 deal with Russia, so it out of the question for us to turn back. That’s done,” Erdogan said, according to broadcaster NTV.
He said Turkey was open to purchasing Patriot systems from the United States as long as the deal served Turkey’s interests, but added there were issues on delivery and production that were still being discussed with Washington.
“The US administration views the early delivery issue positively, but they won’t say anything about joint production or a credit. We continue our work based on the promise of the S-400 deliveries in July.”
The formal US offer for Turkey’s purchase of Patriot systems expires at the end of March, US officials have told Reuters, after which a new offer would have to be submitted.
The US asked Turkey to give at least an informal answer on whether it would go ahead with its S-400 purchase by February 15, one US official said.
It was not immediately clear whether Turkey had responded to the US offer.