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Algeria opposition boycott Bouteflika inauguration

Five parties boycott the fourth inauguration of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Monday
Supporters of Algerian opposition leader Ali Benflis argue with supporters of Algeria's re-elected President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers (AFP)

Algerian opposition parties boycotted the inauguration of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Monday, an opposition leader said.

Five of the parties staying away had also called on their supporters to boycott the 17 April election. A sixth - the Socialist Forces Front (FFS) - had allowed its rank and file to decide whether to vote in the poll.

"It's the logical conclusion of the election boycott," said Abderrazaq Makri, leader of the Movement of Society for Peace.

His party and two other moderate Islamist groups - the Front for Justice and Development and Ennhada - joined with the Jil El Djadid (Party of Youth) and the fiercely secular Rally for Culture and Democracy in the polling day boycott.

In the inauguration ceremony, televised across the country, Bouteflika sat in a wheelchair and placed his right hand on the Koran. In a frail voice, he repeated an oath read out by a judge, before saying his election was a "victory for the state".

Bouteflika, who was also in a wheelchair when he cast his own vote on election day, has hardly been seen in public since a mini-stroke which confined him to hospital in Paris for three months last year.

Turnout in the election was just 50.7 percent, according to official figures, sharply down on the 74.5 percent reported when Bouteflika won a third term in 2009, although that figure was criticised in a leaked US embassy cable as inflated.

Due to poor health, Bouteflika made no public appearances in the campaign.

Khaled, a famous rai musician, told AFP that he was taking the plane on Sunday evening to be present in Algiers for the swearing in of the veteran incumbent.

Khaled, who fled to France in the 1980s in the face of threats from Islamists, contributed a clip to the Bouteflika re-election campaign.

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