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Algeria’s ailing president wins fourth term in office

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has won a fourth term in office with 81.53 percent of the vote, Algerian officials say.

The 77-year-old incumbent’s main rival, Ali Benflis, received 12.18 percent in an election which saw 51.78 percent of Algerians cast their ballots, Interior Minister Tayeb Belaiz told a news conference on Friday.

The result comes after a three-week election campaign that saw a spirited effort by Benflis and his supporters.

Benflis criticised the election as marked by “fraud on a massive scale” after polls closed on Thursday. He has vowed to contest the results.

Official figures for turnout were down from the 75 percent turnout for Bouteflika’s last win in 2009. The figures have been described by activists and opposition politicians as inflated.

The youngest candidate, Abdelaziz Belaid, came third with 3.03 percent of the vote, followed by the only female candidate Louisa Hanoune, who ustered 1.37 percent.

The two other candidates, Ali Fawzi Rebaine and Moussa Touati both won less than one percent.

Bouteflika’s decision to seek a new mandate after being in power for 15 years had sparked both derision and criticism from those who questioned his ability to rule aftersuffering from a stroke last year. His poor health has forced him to vote from a wheelchair in the elections.

Bouteflika still remains popular with many Algerians who credit him with helping to end a devastating civil war and contain Arab Spring protests.

A veteran of the war of independence against France, Bouteflika first came to power in 1999, but was dogged in his third term by ill health and corruption scandals.

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