June 13, 2021 by archyde
Counting in progress at a polling station in Algiers, Algeria, Saturday, June 12, 2021. RAMZI BOUDINA / REUTERS
The early legislative elections in Algeria, a ballot rejected by the protest movement of Hirak and part of the opposition, were marked, Saturday, June 12, by a very strong abstention.
This is the first legislative since the unprecedented and peaceful popular uprising, born on February 22, 2019 from the rejection of a fifth term of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, pushed almost two months later to resign after 20 years of reign.
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Main issue, the national participation rate reached only 30.20%, the lowest score for at least 20 years for legislative elections, according to the president of the National Independent Election Authority (ANIE), Mohamed Chorfi.
By way of comparison, it stood at 35.70% during the last legislative elections in 2017 (42.90% in 2012). Turnout is even down compared to the 2019 presidential election, which saw Abdelmadjid Tebboune elected with only 40% of the vote, a record abstention for such an election.
But whatever happens, the power will live with it. “For me, the turnout doesn’t matter. What matters to me is that those for whom the people vote have sufficient legitimacy ”, said President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
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Clashes and arrests
Voting operations took place generally calmly in Algiers, where voters were counted on the fingers of one hand, and in the provinces, except in Kabylia, a rebellious region where participation was already almost zero in previous polls.
The Algerians paraded in droplets in the voting booths, according to journalists from Agence France-Presse (AFP) on the spot.
“I never voted and this time it’s the same. I do not believe that things will be able to change ”, said Fatiha, a 50-year-old trader.
In Kabylia (northeast), almost all the polling stations have closed in Béjaïa and Tizi Ouzou, the most populous cities in the Berber-speaking region, according to the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights and the Committee National for the Liberation of Prisoners (CNLD). Clashes broke out in several Kabyle municipalities, with looting of the ballot boxes, and the police carried out dozens of arrests, according to the LADDH and the CNLD.
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The CNLD also reported arrests in Algiers and in the neighboring town of Boumerdès.
A trend known on Sunday
Before the elections, the Hirak, who calls in vain for a radical change of “System” governance in place since independence (1962), denounced a “Electoral masquerade” and “A headlong rush” of the plan. The secular and leftist opposition boycotted the ballot.
The color of the next assembly should emerge on Sunday but the official results could not be announced before 96 hours, specified the president of the ANIE.
Some 24 million Algerians were called upon to elect the 407 deputies of the National People’s Congress for five years. They had to choose from 2,288 lists, of which more than 1,200 were displayed as “Independent”. This is the first time that such a large number of independents have come forward against contenders endorsed by parties largely discredited and held responsible for the crisis in the country.
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