Ali Benflis

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Ali Benflis
علي بن فليس
Prime Minister of Algeria
In office
27 August 2000 – 5 May 2003
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Preceded by Ahmed Benbitour
Succeeded by Ahmed Ouyahia
Personal details
Born (1944-09-08) 8 September 1944 (age 70)
Batna, Algeria
Political party National Liberation Front

Ali Benflis (Arabic: على بن فليس‎) (born September 8, 1944) is an Algerian politician who was Prime Minister from 2000 to 2003.[1] In 2003, he became the general secretary of the National Liberation Front party. Benflis was a candidate in the 2004 presidential election, but the poll resulted in the re-election of Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Benflis ran yet again as an independent candidate in the 2014 Algerian presidential elections held on 17 April 2014. As a result, Abdelaziz Bouteflika was reelected as president with 81.53% of the votes, with Benflis ending as runner-up with 12.18%.

Early life[edit]

Benflis was born on September 8, 1944 in Batna, which is the fifth largest city in Algeria. When he was 13 years old, Benflis lost his father and older brother during the Algerian War. This revolution, which started in 1954 and ended in 1962, led to Algeria gaining its independence from France. But it was a complex war that involved guerilla warfare, torture and counter-terrorism operations. Benflis went to primary school in Batna, before earning his high school diploma from Hihi El Mekki High School in Constantine.

Political career[edit]

Benflis successively held the positions of General Secretary at the office of the Algerian President, as well as Chief of Staff at the Presidential Cabinet. After that, he was appointed as Head of the Government and Secretary-General of the FLN Party, and it was during this post when he ran for president in the April 8, 2004 election. The results of that election were largely seen as distorted by fraud.[2]

Ali Benflis is a strong supporter of human rights. He is a founding member of the Algerian Human Rights League,[3] which was set up on November 11, 1987. This organization works to defend and promote human rights in Algeria, as well as education citizens about democracy and good governance. Benflis was a member of the executive committee of the Algerian Human Rights League, as well as a delegate for the country’s eastern area. His mandate ended on November 9, 1998.

He obtained his law degree in 1968 from The Faculty of Law and Economic Sciences University in Algeria. He became a magistrate and was appointed judge at the Court of Blida in October 1968. It was shortly after this appointment, that he was posted in the central administration of the Ministry of Justice, where he became a sub-director of juvenile delinquency until the end of 1969. After that, he was appointed as prosecutor at the Court of Batna until 1971. From 1971 – 1974 Benflis was acting General-Attorney at the Court of Constantine. It was during this time that he decided to cement his place in legal work, and join the bar.

In 1974, he quickly proved to be one of the most influential lawyers of his generation. So much so, that his peers elected him President of the Lawyers for the Batna area from 1983 – 1985. He was also elected as a member of the executive committee of the National Council of Lawyers during the same period. In 1987, Benflis’ stature catapulted him the position of President of the Bar for Batna. These influential posts were what led Ali Benflis to be appointed Minister of Justice in Algeria, in November 1988.

As minister of Justice (1988 – 1991), the justice system witnessed its deepest and most daring reforms. One such measure was known as the Status of the Judicial Authorities, which established, for the first time, the independence of the judiciary. Several other laws were passed under Benflis: The law governing the lawyers’ profession which reinforced the rights of the defence, the laws related to the professions of notaries and bailiffs as well as texts relating to the clerk’s office. He initiated the adoption of texts consolidating freedom and human rights such as the abolition of the banishment sentence and the elimination of the State Security Court. He improved the prison conditions.

Minister of Justice in three different governments, he will be remembered as the one who required from the authorities that certain judiciary guarantees be respected, such as the right of recourse and the right to a defending counsel for the people subjected to a measure of internment without trial taken in application of the 1991 decree instituting the Emergency State. He will also be remembered because he resigned from the government when his request was not taken into account.

Prime Minister (2000-2003)[edit]

Ali Benflis was appointed Prime Minister of Algeria in August 2000. His mandate was renewed in June 2002. During this time, he implemented a new style of governance based on dialogue and consultation. His judicial expertise and open-mindedness allowed him to be able to defuse, with clear-sight, many social conflicts. His qualities also prompted his social and economic partners to adhere to his legislative initiatives on economic and social reforms. Ali Benflis left the post of Prime Minister in May 2003.

Benflis' political career was prompted by his election to the Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the FLN in December 1989. He was successively re-elected in 1991, 1996, 1998 and 2000. His political career was further catapulted in September 2001, when he was elected the General-Secretary of the party, and then re-elected in March 2003 during the party’s 8th Congress. While head of the FLN Party, Ali Benflis resolutely led it on the path of modernity, autonomy and continuity.

2004 presidential elections[edit]

Benflis was a main candidate in opposition to Abdelaziz Bouteflika during the 2004 Algerian presidential election, but came a distant second as Bouteflika won with 85.0% of the vote against just 6.4% for Benflis. The turnout was 58.1%.

Candidate Party Votes %
Abdelaziz Bouteflika National Rally for Democracy 8,651,723 85.0
Ali Benflis National Liberation Front 653,951 6.4
Abdallah Djaballah Movement for National Reform 511,526 5.0
Said Sadi Rally for Culture and Democracy 197,111 1.9
Louisa Hanoune Workers' Party 101,630 1.0
Ali Fawzi Rebaine Ahd 54 63,761 0.6
Invalid/blank votes 329,075
Total 10,508,777 100
Registered voters/turnout 18,097,255 58.1
Source: IFES

When the results of the April 8, 2004 presidential election were announced, Benflis retired his mandate as Secretary-General of the FLN Party. He denounced the election results, which were seen by many as marred with fraud. But Ali Benflis made it very clear that just because he was giving up his post, did not mean he was leaving the political scene. He insists he remains loyal to his ideas.

Benflis did not present his candidacy during the 2009 presidential election again won by Bouteflika by 90.24% of the vote.

2014 presidential elections[edit]

On January 19, 2014, Benflis announced his intention to stand as a candidate in the 2014 presidential election.[4] Candidate website.

Algerian Interior Minister Taieb Belaiz announced on 18 April that Bouteflika had won 81.53% of the vote, while Benflis was second placed with 12.18%.[5] The turnout was 51.7%, down from the 75% turnout in 2009.

Candidate Party Votes %
Abdelaziz Bouteflika National Liberation Front 8,332,598 81.53
Ali Benflis Independent 1,244,918 12.18
Abdelaziz Belaid Front for the Future 343,624 3.36
Louisa Hanoune Workers' Party 140,253 1.37
Ali Fawzi Rebaine Ahd 54 101,046 0.99
Moussa Touati Algerian National Front 57,590 0.56
Invalid/blank votes 1,087,449
Total 11,307,478 100
Registered voters/turnout 21,871,393 51.70
Source: Interior Ministry

After the polls closed, Benflis criticised the election as having been marked by "fraud on a massive scale." The turnout figures were also criticised for allegedly being inflated.

Marriage, family, and personal life[edit]

Ali Benflis is married, and is the father of four children.

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ahmed Benbitour
Prime Minister of Algeria
2000–2003
Succeeded by
Ahmed Ouyahia