Restive Algeria is holding its first — and sole — televised presidential debate Friday, ahead of the consequential Dec. 12 poll.
It is a crucial time for Algeria after nationwide pro-democracy protests forced ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika out of power in April. But the country’s 9-month-old mass movement believes the presidential poll is a sham and fear it will be rigged in favor of the old regime.
Five men — Azzedine Mihoubi, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Abdelkader Bengrina, Ali Benflis and Abdelaziz Belaid — are vying to make their case Friday evening to lead the North African country.
The election is being managed by the long-serving power structure of this oil- and gas-rich country with a strategic role in the Mediterranean region.
Instead of new faces, two of the candidates are former prime ministers and one is a loyalist of Algeria’s influential army chief.
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