ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — One of Algeria's most prominent reformist politicians said Thursday he will not be running for president, complaining that the election is meaningless with the military-backed incumbent running for a fourth term.
Mouloud Hamrouche told a press conference that the country's institutions, including the military, were being forced to support aging President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's latest run.
"Our country is at a political impasse which no man can resolve alone," he said. "The re-election of Bouteflika will only exacerbate the crisis in Algeria."
Several opposition parties have already called for a boycott of the election, saying its results would be a foregone conclusion.
The refusal of such a prominent politician to take part can be seen as a blow to the elections' credibility.
Bouteflika, 76, has not appeared in public for two years and is visibly weaker since suffering a stroke last year. Even so, he is expected to win the election with the backing of the powerful state apparatus.
Opposition requests to set up an independent body to run the April 17 elections were rejected.
While Algeria regularly holds elections, real power is widely believed to be in the hands of certain politicians and military leaders.
For the past year there has been uncertainty over whether Bouteflika would run again, raising the possibility of more open contest.
Hamrouche ran against Bouteflika in 1999, an election in which all six of the president's opponents withdrew, complaining of fraud. Bouteflika got nearly 74 of the vote.
Hamrouche was prime minister from 1989 to 1991 and was celebrated for his political reforms.
"I won't call for a boycott or for people to go vote because I don't believe an election held under these conditions will have any meaning in Algeria," he said.