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Algerians flood streets to protest against December pollsBBC

BBC


Demonstrators thronged the streets of the Algerian capital on Friday to renew their opposition to a presidential election they say will keep in power a political elite rejected by the people.

The protest came two days ahead of the start of campaigning for the December 12 vote.

Demonstrations have gripped Algeria every week since February when protesters flooded the streets of the capital and major cities against former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in office.

The ailing Bouteflika stepped down in April under pressure from the street.

Powerful army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah, the country’s main powerbroker in the post-Bouteflika era, has led a push for presidential polls by the end of 2019, after an earlier date was missed because no candidates came forward.

“The elections will not take place,” chanted the protesters.”

“How do you expect people to go and vote when the candidates are all offspring of the system?” asked pensioner Malika Benabderahmane.

Echoing many of her fellow protesters, she said the current field of presidential candidates would all seek to carry on Bouteflika’s policies and “make promises and promises that will never be kept”.

Her cousin Aisha said next month’s election would turn out to be the biggest abstention-hit poll since Algeria gained its independence from France in 1962 “because voters will stay away”.

Last week, the constitutional council said five candidates had been selected to run out of 23 who had registered for the poll.

Among those cleared to run, Bouteflika-era prime ministers Ali Benflis and Abdelmadjid Tebboune are considered the frontrunners.