Algeria is set to hold the presidential election on April 18, the North African country’s presidency announced. It is unclear whether Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s frail 81-year-old president who has been in power since 1999, will stand for a fifth consecutive term. Djamel Ould Abbes, the former chief of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), was sacked in November, a month after he announced that Bouteflika would be the party’s candidate in the presidential poll. “Bouteflika… is the candidate of the FLN for the presidential election,” Ould Abbes was quoted as saying following a meeting with legislators from the party last year.
In Sidi Mhamed, a drab satellite town southwest of Algiers, residents are struggling to make ends meet, stay safe and secure a better future for their children. Few have any hope that Thursday’s legislative election will improve their lives. The sense of disillusionment with the political process is palpable. A few party billboards and some scraps of graffiti on apartment block walls are the only reminder that a nationwide election is just days away.
Algeria’s parliament was expected to adopt a package of constitutional reforms on Sunday that authorities said will strengthen democracy, but opponents doubt it will bring real change. Parliamentary group leaders on Wednesday began considering the package, which is to be voted on by the lower and upper houses in full, rather than amendment-by-amendment. The reforms are meant to address longstanding public grievances in the North African nation, and possibly to prepare for a smooth transition amid concerns over the health of 78-year-old leader Abdul Aziz Bouteflika.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika looked set to win a fourth term with allies claiming victory in an election on Thursday, despite questions over his health and his rare appearances since suffering a stroke in 2013. Official results were due on Friday, but Bouteflika’s camp claimed the independence veteran backed by the dominant National Liberation Front (FLN) party had succeeded in securing five more years at the helm of the North African OPEC state. The 77-year-old Bouteflika, who has appeared in public only a few times since his stroke, earlier voted in Algiers while sitting in a wheelchair. He gave no statement and only briefly shook hands with supporters before leaving.
Presidential hopeful Ali Benflis said Tuesday that thousands of his supporters would monitor Algeria’s election, vowing to protest if it is rigged in favour of ailing incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is seeking re-election. Benflis is seen as the president’s main rival, and has repeatedly warned of fraud during the election campaign, describing it as his “main adversary” in Thursday’s vote. Speaking to reporters in Algiers, he said he had an “army” of people in place to monitor the poll “consisting of 60,000 people, most of them young men and women armed to the teeth with conviction. If the election is rigged, I will not keep quiet,” Benflis said.
The main opposition candidate in Algeria’s presidential elections cried foul late Thursday night hours after voting ended, alleging massive fraud and vowing to reject any results announced. Ali Benflis told supporters at his headquarters that preliminary information indicated fraud on a grand scale with grave irregularities across the country. “Our history will remember this date as a great crime against the nation by stealing the voice of the citizens and blocking popular will,” he said, while fireworks from celebrating supporters of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, his opponent, could be heard in the background. The national commission charged with supervising the elections, however, insisted that aside from a few incidents, the election went smoothly with just 130 complaints. Turnout was 51.7 percent of the 23 million registered voters, according to the Interior Minister.
With a presidential election on Thursday, most Algerians see a fourth term for the incumbent, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, as a foregone conclusion. Mr. Bouteflika has already been in power 15 years. In the last election in 2009, he was returned to office with an improbable 90 percent of the vote. So tightly controlled is this North African country that, virtually alone in the region, it passed on the Arab Spring. Yet even as the re-election of Mr. Bouteflika, 77, appears inevitable, his insistence on running again, despite his apparent frail health, has increased popular exasperation, revealed unusual signs of division within the ruling elite and provoked an unlikely show of solidarity among opposition parties, both secular and Islamic, which have united in a call to boycott the election. Exceptionally, a nascent urban middle-class youth movement, Barakat! (“Enough!” in Arabic), styled along the lines of the protests organized through social media during the Arab Spring, has begun campaigning against another term for Mr. Bouteflika. In recent weeks, it broke a taboo by holding small political protests here on the streets of the capital.
Several acts of violence marred Algeria’s presidential election campaign over the last week, as voters prepare to head to the polls April 17th. In Bouira, a representative of Ali Benflis, a serious rival to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was prevented from holding a public meeting at a cinema on Tuesday (April 8th) by a group of campaigners. That followed an incident last Saturday, when protesters in Bejaia raided a community arts centre that was supposed to host a meeting led by Abdelmalek Sellal, who was forced to call off the event. Damage to the building was estimated at 100 million dinars, according to APS. Despite the condemnations that followed the acts of violence in Bejaia, where journalists from the private TV channel Ennahar and law enforcement officers were injured, young people ran into the street in Metlili, Ghardaia at the end of a Wednesday meeting staged by Sellal. Scuffles between youths and law enforcement officers ensued. The young demonstrators accused Sellal of failing to keep promises to improve living standards that he made while serving as prime minister.
A string of white pearls around her neck, her hair tied in a bun, Louisa Hanoune, the only woman running for Algeria’s presidency, holds out her palms and declares: “I have clean hands”. The remark triggers an outburst of celebratory ululations and chants of “Louisa! Louisa!” among supporters of the 60-year-old leftist candidate, who is widely popular in Algeria, even among conservatives hostile to feminism. “I have clean hands,” she declares in a husky voice. “I have not held back, I have not sold off any businesses, I have not oppressed women.” She was speaking at a gathering in Kolea, about 40 km west of Algiers, where many women were among the roughly 300 supporters of the head of the Worker’s Party, who has been a member of parliament since 1997.
More than 60 lawmakers walked out of the inaugural session of parliament in Algeria, in protest at alleged fraud in recent elections. The MPs, mostly from a Islamist coalition, waved banners that said “Say ‘no’ to fraud”, before leaving after a roll call of new members. The party claims the polls two weeks ago were fixed in favour of the ruling FLN party and its coalition partners. Algeria was one of the few states in the region to avoid unrest last year.
Algeria overturned the Arab Spring’s revolutionary narrative with elections that bolstered the longtime ruling party and dashed Islamists’ hopes of gaining power. The vote did something else, too: It burnished Algeria’s democratic image with Western allies who rely on it to fight terrorism and supply natural gas. Few people turned out to vote in last week’s elections, and the result did little to boost Algerian rulers’ legitimacy at home. But analysts say Algeria needed to hold elections to show it was at least somewhat democratic in the midst of a region-wide push for greater freedoms. “Algeria has satisfactory relations with Washington and Paris,” said Hugh Roberts, an expert on the country at Boston’s Tufts University. “It needs to do well enough (with reform) not to embarrass its Western partners, and that’s what it’s done.”
Islamists suffered a surprising defeat in Algeria’s parliamentary elections, bucking a trend that saw them gain power across North Africa after Arab Spring uprisings. The three party Islamist “Green Alliance” claimed Friday the results were rigged to keep them out of power in a country that has experienced decades of violence between radical Islamist groups and security forces. The Green Alliance was widely expected to do well, but instead it was the pro-government National Liberation Front that has ruled the country for much of its history since independence from France that dominated the election. The FLN, as it is known by its French initials, took 220 seats out of 462, while a sister party, also packed with government figures, took another 68 seats, giving the two a comfortable majority. The Islamist alliance, which took just 48 seats, less than in the last election, said the results differed dramatically what their election observers had witnessed in polling stations.
Results of parliamentary elections in Algeria are expected Friday afternoon, after authorities announced better-than-expected turnout in the ballot. Still, fewer than half the potential voters made their voices heard. The government in Algiers reported relatively high turnout in parliamentary elections late on Thursday, a surprise after a campaign that appeared to be marred by voter mistrust and disinterest. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had billed the ballot as a piecemeal version of the rapid changes taking place in several regional neighbors, referring to it as an “Algerian Spring.” Election observers brought in by Bouteflika reported only minor negative incidents on voting day, while the government was able to announce greater voter interest than initially expected.
Algeria: Elections being called fairest in 2 decades, but little enthusiasm from voters | The Washington Post
As parliamentary elections unfolded across Algeria on Thursday, voting was light for much of day in the capital, despite these contests being billed the freest in 20 years. A coalition of Islamist parties is hoping to replicate the election successes of other Islamists across North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings of 2011, but they face stiff competition from two government parties with deeply entrenched networks. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika spent the past several months urging Algerians to come out and vote, alternating promises of bold new reforms after elections with warnings that foreign powers might invade Algeria if there is a low turnout. No party is expected to dominate the parliament, though the real question will be if there is a substantial turnout. Just hours before the polls closed, the government put the participation rate at 35 percent, suggesting it will be more than in 2007, but not by much.
Algeria’s closely-watched May 10th parliamentary election will help clarify the political currents popular enough to sufficiently move the north African country towards a new era in its agitated history. They are also perceived as a rehearsal for the country’s presidential election where the stakes will be much greater. In Algeria, the President holds a far more prominent role than many other state institution. The elections have come at a time of great regional uncertainty and instability following the Arab Spring that swept away regimes in neighbouring Tunisia and in Egypt. In what is certainly an effort to safeguard the country from similar disorder, 75-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s announced democratic reforms and the holding of anticipated parliamentary elections as part of an overall transition process. These reforms were welcomed by the international community as a step in the right direction.
A prominent Muslim cleric in Algeria has issued a religious decree saying God will punish anyone who does not vote in a May 10 parliamentary election, a warning aimed at the large numbers planning to abstain from a vote they view as irrelevant. Algeria’s authorities, under pressure to reform after last year’s “Arab Spring” revolts in neighbouring countries, say the vote will be more free and transparent than ever before. This though is met with scepticism by many ordinary Algerians. Sheikh Chemseddine Bouroubi, a well-known imam who follows a mainstream Algerian school of Islam, said people should vote to prevent foreign powers – who he said included Zionists – from fomenting a violent revolution in Algeria. “Algerians must vote because it is about Algeria’s stability, and it is about preserving our country from any foreign interference,” the imam told Reuters on Wednesday in a telephone interview. Allah will punish those who do not vote… Voting is a religious obligation,” said the cleric, who runs a charity organisation in the capital Algiers.
Election fever is spreading in Algeria ahead of the official start of the campaign season on Sunday April 15th. Authorities have appealed to voters to participate in the May 10th elections and have invited international observers to witness the vote, giving assurances that the poll will be free and transparent. The ruling coalition that once held a majority in parliament and government no longer exists. The Movement for a Society of Peace (MSP) was the first to leave, even though it retains its ministerial posts in the government and its seats in parliament. MSP leader Bouguerra Soltani has formed a “Green Alliance” with two other Islamist parties, Ennahda and El Islah, with the goal of becoming head of the ruling coalition.
An Algerian Islamist alliance said on Sunday that it would boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections should there be evidence of fraud, the official APS news agency reported. At a press conference, Hamlaoui Akkouchi, chief of the member party El-Islah (Reform), said The Green Algeria Alliance will withdraw from the elections, slated for May 10, if fraud is found to have occurred.
More than 30 political parties and around 100 independent lists with a total of more than 10,000 candidates will compete for the 462 seats in the National People’s Assembly. As the Algerian Parliament that comes out of next legislative elections in May 10 will have 73 additional seats, passing from today’s 389 to 462, what is new in the Algerian political landscape ,it is considered to be a harbinger to constituent assembly demanded by opposition parties. The Algerian government which explains the increasing in number of Parliament’s seats by the will to reinforce women’s presence in parliament is far of being credible among the civil society for its way of ruling the country. This may lead to the possibility of Islamist election victory as was the case in 1991. Concern among some politicians and political experts over the capacity of Islamists to grab the majority of seats in the next assembly are currently mounting in Algeria that could seemingly be contaminated by the Tunisian and Egyptian syndrome. Following in the footsteps of their fellow Islamists, in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, three Algerian Islamist parties, the Movement of Society for Peace (MSP), El Islah and Ennahda, decided to officially form a new coalition called “Alliance of green Algeria.”
When Algeria holds legislative elections in May, the country will for the first time permit monitoring by international observers. The European Union and the African Union recently accepted Algeria’s invitation to observe the poll. According to Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci, “the Arab League, the OIC and the UN “will join in this effort and…the Arab League and the OIC will do likewise”. “We are interested in improving the conditions in which these observers will work,” Medelci told Liberte on January 10th. “We are in a situation where what we call the Arab Spring has exerted a positive influence on everyone to do better, including Algeria.”
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Sunday invited international observers to monitor a spring 2012 legislative vote he promised would be the country’s most open ever. At a Cabinet meeting, Bouteflika tasked the government with inviting foreign organisations “to massively deploy their observers for the next legislative election”, a statement said.
The statement cited the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, the African Union but also the United Nations and the European Union, which has never monitored polls in Algeria. “I look forward to the upcoming legislative election which will be held amid unprecedented plurality,” the president said.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika late Friday announced sweeping reforms including changes to the constitution and electoral law, and initiatives that would enhance the role of political parties. Bouteflika said the reforms should be adopted before nationwide elections due in May next year.
In a much awaited 20-minute speech, his first since the start of upheavals that have rocked authoritarian regimes in the Arab world since late last year, he pledged to see through the legislative and constitutional changes “to strengthen democracy”. Algeria’s 1996 constitution was amended in 2009 to allow Bouteflika, who is 74, to seek a third term.