In February 1999, Bouteflika returned to Algeria after a group of top military, political, and business leaders persuaded him to run in the upcoming presidential elections. Six other candidates were on the ballot, but two days before the elections they decided to withdraw from the vote after the state refused to act on their complaints of electoral irregularities. By default, Bouteflika became the only candidate. This situation hurt the credibility of both the poll and its winner. Bouteflika had secured the support of the military and that of the FLN, the RND, and the MSP parties. Being from the era of the authoritarian but well-liked President Boumedienne, he was thought to be the ideal person to lead his country out of its deep and multidimensional crisis. According to official results, he won the election on 15 April 1999 by 73.79%, or7.4 million, of the vote cast, becoming the first civilian president since 1965. In 2003, he announced his plans to run for reelection in 2004 and sought support for his reelection bid from French president Jacques Chirac.