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Algeria’s Disputed Election Triggers Protests, Clashes

Thursday 12 December 2019
Algeria’s Disputed Election Triggers Protests, Clashes

Alwaght- Polls have opened in Algeria’s presidential election on Thursday with tens of thousands of people took to the streets in the north African country saying no election can be free or fair as long as the old guard remains in power and the military continues to be involved in the country's political life.

Thursday's vote is the first since former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced out after a two-decade-long rule in April in the wake of nationwide peaceful protests.

The vote has been deferred twice since the unprecedented leaderless protest movement, commonly referred to as the Hirak, erupted in February.

Shortly after polls opened, attackers "ransacked the ballot boxes and destroyed part of the electoral lists" in the disaffected northern mountain region of Kabylie, home to much of the country's Berber minority, a resident of the city of Bejaia told AFP.

Elsewhere in Kabylie, a large crowd surrounded a polling station in the city of Tizi Ouzou and protesters also took to the streets of Bouira, witnesses said.

Kabylie has a long history of opposition to the central government but Thursday's presidential vote was unpopular across much of the country.

In central Algiers, uniformed police and plainclothes officers were out in force and made about 10 arrests in the morning to prevent a repeat of the previous day's mass demonstration.

Five candidates are in the running, all of them widely rejected as "children of the regime" of Bouteflika -- among them former prime ministers Abdelmajid Tebboune and Ali Benflis and a former minister, Azzedine Mihoubi.

Turnout was expected to be extremely low after demonstrators shouting "no vote" again pressed their demand for a boycott, facing off with truncheon-wielding riot police in Algiers on the eve of the polls.

Polls were scheduled to close at 1800 GMT but the result may not be announced for a day or longer, as was the case after previous elections already marked by high abstention rates.

 

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Algeria Elections

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