Regime stalwart elected Algeria president, angering protesters

AFP
December 14, 2019

ALGIERS: A former ally of Algeria´s deposed leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika was elected president of the protest-wracked country in a widely boycotted vote, sparking another outpouring of anger on...

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ALGIERS: A former ally of Algeria´s deposed leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika was elected president of the protest-wracked country in a widely boycotted vote, sparking another outpouring of anger on the streets Friday. Huge crowds massed once again in Algiers vowing to keep up their campaign for the total dismantling of the political establishment following ex-prime minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune´s victory in Thursday´s poll.

“The vote is rigged. Your elections are of no concern to us and your president will not govern us,” demonstrators chanted following polls marred by unrest and a low turnout. “Tebboune is worse than Bouteflika. He´s known for being one of the thieves,” said Meriem, a 31-year-old civil servant. “We did not vote and we will not back down. The 74-year-old former premier took 58.15 percent of the vote, trouncing his four fellow contenders without the need for a second-round runoff, electoral commission chairman Mohamed Charfi announced. All five candidates served under the two-decade rule of Bouteflika, 82, who resigned in the face of mass demonstrations in April. The deeply unpopular election had been championed by the army as a way of restoring stability after almost 10 months of street protests. But on polling day protesters defied a heavy police presence to hold a mass rally in the heart of the capital and smaller demonstrations in provincial cities. The candidates — who included another former prime minister, Ali Benflis, 75, and an ex-minister, Azzedine Mihoubi — were widely rejected by protesters as “children of the regime”.

A record six in 10 Algerians abstained in the vote, Charfi said, the lowest turnout for a multi-party election since independence from France in 1962. Tens of thousands rallied on election day in central Algiers, where police with water cannon and helicopters tried to disperse protesters.



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