Algerians vote for president; incumbent favored

April 10, 2009 01:33

Sporadic riots, a bombing and a small earthquake marred Algeria's presidential election Thursday, which incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika was expected to win amid calls for a boycott by the opposition. In power since 1999, Bouteflika is credited with largely pacifying a country ravaged by insurgency but is blamed for not doing enough to spread Algeria's oil and gas riches among the people. Bouteflika faced five relatively unknown challengers and appeared almost certain to win a third term without a runoff. Results were expected Friday, but national radio reported late Thursday that the president's supporters were crowding streets in some towns to rejoice and fireworks echoed through Algiers. Participation was viewed as the only real test for Bouteflika, who is seeking another five years in power to pursue his program of national reconstruction and reconciliation.

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