The FLN on 3 October chose its leader and former prime minister Ali Benflis as its presidential candidate for 2004 elections. The party announced the decision at a congress on 5 October, in defiance of an Interior Ministry ruling, which had banned the meeting. The decision by the FLN is a blow to Bouteflika and means that he will not go into the elections with the backing of the party machine (MEED 8:12:03).