Bouteflika was elected in 1999 when six candidates withdrew from the race due to alleged fraud. In this year’s election, some rivals have claimed that the president is using his position to gain an unfair advantage. ‘He is monopolising state television,’ an aide to Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi, one of Bouteflika’s rivals, told the UK’s Financial Times. Others are said to be accusing the president of exploiting local administrations and the judiciary.

Former army general Rachid Benyelles became the fourth candidate to drop out of the race recently saying administrative hurdles had forced him to withdraw. Reports say three former prime ministers are among an estimated 40 candidates who will take part in the race – Ali Benflis, Sid Ahmed Ghozali and Mokdad Sifi.