Volume. 11963
Bouteflika denounces boycott calls as opponent warns against electoral fraud
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_01_Algeria99b.jpgPresident Abdelaziz Bouteflika urged Algerians to defy boycott calls and vote in Thursday's election, as his rival Ali Benflis said an "army" of supporters would monitor the poll and warned against fraud.
The ailing 77-year-old incumbent is widely expected to clinch a fourth term in office, but he faces the damaging possibility of low voter turnout, with opposition parties and a youth protest group urging Algerians to snub the poll, AFP reported. 
"I call on all citizens to participate in the presidential election and express their choice," Bouteflika said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Abstention, whether it comes from indifference or an unmotivated attitude, indicates an intention to remain on the fringes of the nation."
His message was carried by national media, with the president rarely appearing in public due to his poor health, which has prevented him from even taking to the campaign trail.
Benflis Tuesday reiterated his certitude that he will win the upcoming presidential elections slated to take place on Thursday.
He promised Algerians a "surprise" on the day of elections while warning that Algerians would no longer stay silent towards frauds in the elections.
Speaking to Sky News Arabic, Benflis said he received a lot of support when he held electoral conferences in the different governorates. He noted he is sure he'll win the elections. "Wait for April 17 and you will see the surprise," he said.
The former Algerian prime minister and veteran human rights activist, Benflis lost elections in 2004 in favor of Bouteflika. Benflis alleged the elections were riddled with fraud.
He said Algerians would not keep silent in the face of electoral fraud, "Algerians will not remain silent this time".
Speaking to reporters in Algiers, he said he had an "army" of people in place to monitor the poll "consisting of 60,000 people, most of them young men and women armed to the teeth with conviction."
"If the election is rigged, I will not keep quiet," Benflis said.
"What will I do with these millions of people who have voted for me, if they realize that their votes have been rigged or tampered with?"
"Not to keep quiet means to protest, not to accept the will of the people being stolen," he added.
Others opponents of the president also warned of electoral fraud, with Abderezak Mokri, who heads the Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP) - the Algerian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood - insisting Bouteflika could only win the election by rigging it.
"The signs of fraud are discernible," Mokri said, without elaborating. "The regime's candidate cannot win the election" without rigging it.
MSP and two other Islamist parties have forged an unlikely alliance with the fiercely secularist Rally for Culture and Democracy to call on voters to shun an election they say is a "sham."
Youth protest group Barakat (Enough), founded just two months ago specifically to oppose the president's bid for a fourth term, is also calling for a boycott.
Amnesty International has accused the Algerian authorities of silencing critics and stepping up curbs on freedom of expression in the run-up to the poll.

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