Benflis decides to stand in Algeria presidential elections

After 10-year absence from politics

ALGIERS - Algerian former premier Ali Benflis Sunday said he would stand in the country's presidential elections, after a 10-year absence from politics after he lost the 2004 poll to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
"With honour, determination, confidence and a lot of humility, I took the decision to be a candidate for the presidency of the republic," Benflis, 71, told the press and his supporters.
Bouteflika on Friday set the date for the vote as April 14, but has still not said whether he himself will be seeking a fourth term after more than 14 years in power.
"I am motivated by national duty and it is in this spirit that I hope to propose and lead a project for Algeria with all Algerian men and women," he said.
Benflis was the second prime minister during Bouteflika's first mandate as president, and then ran against him in 2004.
He has a reputation as a human rights defender and is popular with intellectuals, but in 2004 he only won 6.4 percent of the vote, while Bouteflika was reelected with 85 percent of the ballot.
During his speech, which lasted one and a half hours, Benflis, who also served as justice minister, said his priorities would be boosting the judiciary, creating jobs, and improving education and health services.
He also said it was essential to "head towards a productive economy," saying he had a programme with "innovative solutions".
The lawyer also said he would follow the policy of national reconciliation introduced by the current president to end the country's civil war, which lasted more than 10 years and killed 200,000 people, according to official figures.
Algerian electoral law requires each candidate to gather at least 60,000 signatures from supporters across no fewer than 25 provinces.