Algeria - Leadership



During his electoral campaign and in his first presidential speech on 29 May 1999, Bouteflika promised to work hard to restore the trust of Algerians in their institutions, something that he regarded as essential for ending political violence in the country. To dispel the distrust that resulted from allegations that the election was rigged, he initiated dialogue with the opposition party leaders and sought to implement reforms that would make the election process less vulnerable to rigging. Initially, Bouteflika enjoyed the support of the army, which holds real power in the country. Bouteflika has been called the "consensus candidate," since he has sought support of all the parties in crafting a solution to the violence rooted in the country's economic crisis.

Bouteflika is committed to solving the crisis, but balancing the interests of international investors, Islamic fundamentalists, and the army has proven challenging. By early 2003 he was reportedly ready to purge the government of army generals, citing their iron-fisted control of the government.

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