Algeria: Ex-PM's party dismisses spokesman's remarks

            By Abdul Razak bin Abdullah </p>  <p>ALGIERS (AA) – Algeria’s second-largest political party of the ruling governmental alliance dismissed remarks by its spokesman Wednesday that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's nomination for a fifth term was a &quot;mistake&quot;.</p>  <p>The National Democratic Rally party (RND) headed by former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who recently resigned over popular protests against Bouteflika’s continued tenure, attributed remarks by spokesman Ahmed Chehab Siddiq to the “provocative way” in which he was questioned during an interview Tuesday with the private El-Bilad TV channel.</p>  <p> During the interview, Siddiq described the nomination of Bouteflika for presidential polls which were scheduled to be held on April 18 as a mistake in assessment.</p>  <p>&quot;We did not have the courage to say strongly what was going to come. We were not convinced of the nomination of the president in his health status,&quot; Siddiq added.</p>  <p>The interview with Siddiq was sometimes carried out “in a provocative and directed manner that led our colleague [Siddiq] to sometimes stray away from the positions known to the National Democratic Rally party”, the party said in the statement.</p>  <p>The party’s statement went on to say that the party’s positions have been clearly expressed by its leader Ouyahia in a letter which he addressed to the party's members, adding these positions included “the party's appreciation and loyalty to the president of the republic&quot;.</p>  <p>A few days ago, Ouyahia called on his party to &quot;respond as soon as possible to the demands of the popular movement&quot; but also stressed his support for a roadmap presented by Bouteflika to overcome the crisis, which has been met with popular protests.</p>  <p>Last week, Bouteflika, 82, postponed presidential elections scheduled for April 18 and withdrew his candidacy following weeks of mass protests against his nomination for a fifth term.</p>  <p>Algerians staged large demonstrations in several parts of the country Friday against the move, calling it an extension of Bouteflika’s fourth term.</p>  <p>Last month, Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front nominated Bouteflika -- who has ruled Algeria since 1999 -- to run for office.</p>  <p>Opposition figures have repeatedly urged the elderly president -- who in 2013 was treated for a blood clot in the brain -- to bow out of the elections.