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President’s double: Eccentric businessman hatches bold plan to skirt law & lead Algeria

President’s double: Eccentric businessman hatches bold plan to skirt law & lead Algeria
Denied a shot at the Algerian presidency thanks to a law banning candidates who have held dual citizenship, businessman Rachid Nekkaz has come up with a brazen plan to secure himself the top job anyway – using his namesake cousin.

After weeks of traveling around Algeria collecting the 60,000 voter signatures necessary to make him eligible to run for president, it turned out that there was still a major roadblock in his path.

Despite dutifully renouncing his French citizenship, Nekkaz remains ineligible for the job, because the country’s law prevents anyone who has ever held citizenship of another country from running.

Cunning plot

The minor issue of the law has not put a stop to Nekkaz’s gallop, however, and instead of accepting his fate the businessman enlisted his cousin and namesake, who is a mechanic, to run in his place.  

So a man also called Rachid Nekkaz put himself forward as a candidate, and the businessman then announced on Facebook that if he wins the April 18 election, the two “will immediately create the post of vice president” which will, of course, be given to his colluding cousin. The elected mechanic would then resign so Nekkaz could take up the role of president – a foolproof plan, if ever there was one.

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It’s not the first time Nekkaz has tried to become Algeria’s president. He also tried to stand in 2014, but then claimed the 62,000 signatures he collected had been stolen.

French presidential run

Nekkaz’s presidential aspirations have not been limited to Algeria. He also tried to run for president in France in 2007, but received endorsements from only 13 people in political office – far from the 500 he needed.

Revising his goals, he tried running for office in the 7th district of Seine-Saint-Denis, but received only 156 votes – just over half a percent. Nekkaz made another try in the 2008 municipal elections, promising €300 to every voter if elected (to no avail).

Sabotaging Burqa ban

Nekkaz was back in the headlines in September 2017, leading a campaign against Austria’s ban on facial coverings – dubbed the ‘burqa ban’ – by promising to pay any Muslim woman’s fine under the law, which, he said, violated freedom of religion.

“If one accepts religious freedom, one must also accept the manifestations of religion,” he told the Austrian news agency APA in September 2017, before the law went into effect. Nekkaz added he had by then already spent around $360,000 on covering face-veil fines in various European countries.

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The Algerian businessman noted he was not a supporter of wearing the veil, but objected to the ban on principle.

Nekkaz was arrested and fined himself in October, when he protested against the law… by covering his face with a photo of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and several Euro banknotes.

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