Algeria. During the spring, presidential elections were held in Algeria, which has been ruled by the 77-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika since the 1990s. Before the election, the country’s opposition called for boycott because Bouteflika again chose to stand as a candidate. In March, thousands of people protested against the incumbent president, who has stayed away from the public since he was hit by a stroke last year.
According to Countryaah.com, Algeria population in 2020 is estimated at 43,851,055. The election took place on April 17 and, as expected, became a success for Bouteflika, which received over 80% of the vote. The main challenger was former Prime Minister Ali Benflis, who, however, had to settle for only 12% of the vote. The turnout was at a low 52% and Benflis felt that the low turnout in combination with serious irregularities during the election day should lead to the election being rejected. Despite objections such as these, Bouteflika swore at the end of the month as president for a fourth term. In May, the new government was made up of 34 ministers, of which only seven were women. Shortly thereafter, the government proposed new constitutional reforms which would, among other things, mean increased power for the country’s prime minister and greater influence for the opposition. The reform proposal was not received directly by the opposition.
In February, a military plane crashed in the northeastern part of the country. Only one of the 78 passengers on board the plane survived the crash. Later in the year, an Algerian passenger plane crashed on its way to Algiers with hundreds of people on board. All passengers and cabin crew died when the plane crashed over northern Mali. Following the accident, an investigation was initiated by French authorities because half of the passengers killed were French citizens.
In June, two Algerian deaths were caused by the so-called MERS virus, which since 2012 has mainly affected neighboring Saudi Arabia. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), more than 800 people had contracted the virus in June 2014. MERS is a coronavirus-like, high-mortality virus. The virus was first discovered in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.
In September, a French citizen was kidnapped by the militant group Jund al-Khalifa (‘the soldiers of the Caliphate’) with links to the terrorist group Islamic State (IS). The man was reported to be a French mountain guide from Nice who, along with some friends, rented a cabin in the province of Kabylia in eastern Algeria. Jund al-Khalifa threatened to kill the man unless France immediately interrupted its air strikes against IS strongholds in Iraq. A day later, a video was released showing how the Frenchman was beheaded. The incident caused strong reactions, and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra announced that the country would never give in to terrorist acts and that those responsible for the murder would be brought to justice.
During the fall, several media reported that Bouteflika’s state of health had deteriorated and that the president again applied to France for care.