Algerians Vote In Parliamentary Elections Amid Boycott Calls

Algerians have begun voting in the first parliamentary elections since longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced to resign two years ago, but the opposition Hirak movement has called for a boycott after seven of its leaders were arrested on Thursday.

Polling stations opened at 8am (07:00 GMT) and are due to close at 7pm. About 24 million Algerians are eligible to vote to elect 407 members of the People’s National Assembly for a five-year term.

The Hirak movement has been spearheading the anti-government protests calling for fundamental changes to the political system in the country, which was ruled by Bouteflika for 20 years. Pro-government parties have urged Algerians to take an active part in what they call a “crucial vote for the country’s stability”, while opponents are denouncing a “sham” election.

Seven leading protest movement figures, including leading opposition figure Karim Tabbou, were arrested on Thursday while on Friday police deployed heavily in the capital, Algiers, blocking any bid by the Hirak movement to hold anti-government protests.

The early election is supposed to exemplify President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s “new Algeria,” with an emphasis on young candidates and those outside the political elite.

Those who vote in Africa’s biggest nation must choose from more than 13,000 candidates, more than half listed as “independent”. The head of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, Said Salhi, has denounced the crackdown that preceded the vote. The “repressive atmosphere and the restrictions placed on human rights and freedoms mean these elections have no democratic value”, Salhi said.

Farida Hamidi, a Hirak activist in Paris, said the election meant little to young Algerians dreaming of change.

“We reject it all: the president, the parliament, the constitution, everything done by this military junta which has been ruling Algeria since 1962 – we want something else,” she said.

“We reject it all: the president, the parliament, the constitution, everything done by this military junta which has been ruling Algeria since 1962 – we want something else,” she said.

Hirak has urged boycotts of all national polls since it mobilised hundreds of thousands of people in 2019 to force longtime president Bouteflika to resign, after he launched a bid for a fifth term.

Jazeera


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