Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism (part 2)

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Rwandan singer amongst terror plot suspects

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism

Read more

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Call it a caretaker government'

Read more

  • Algeria heads to the polls: ‘This election has nothing to do with us’

    Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed during attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single-biggest day of voting

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

Africa

Algeria vote turnout expected higher than in 2007

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-05-11

Algerians voted on Thursday in the first parliamentary elections since last year's Arab Spring revolutions, with turnout expected to be slightly higher than 2007's record low of 35 percent. Officials said they received complaints of irregularities.

AFP - Algeria Thursday held its first polls since the Arab Spring, with an official turnout figure poised to belie deep voter disaffection over the prospect of a political status quo.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's National Liberation Front (FLN), the former single party, and its two government allies, including the country's main legal Islamist party, were confident of victory ahead of the polls.

Foreign observers said the legislative election process was marred only by minor incidents but the electoral commission said it had received many complaints of irregularities.

Speaking on state television with a framed picture of 75-year-old Bouteflika behind him when polling officially closed, Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia said 34.95 percent had voted by 1630 GMT.

Algerians expect little from the election

That paves the way for a significantly higher turnout than the historical low of 35 percent recorded in 2007, but many Algerians are deeply suspicious of official figures.

Many polling stations in Algiers seemed largely deserted and the overwhelming majority of voters were elderly but the state reported the highest turnout in the vast country's remote border regions.

Bouteflika, who was a minister in Algeria's first independent government in 1962, said earlier this week that the polls should mark the rise of a new generation.

In Bab El Oued, the beating heart of Algiers, the narrow tree-lined streets winding down to the seafront were unusually silent and the youth's mood was one of bitter resignation.

"I switch on the TV set and I see election coverage on the state channel. It's like news from a foreign country," said Mohamed, a 30-year-old employed by a water delivery company.

'It's not Algeria, it's the land of those people in power'

In messages exchanged on Facebook in the run-up to the vote, some young Algerians were wishing one another a "happy no-vote day" and enjoying a day off or making plans for an extended weekend at the beach.

The secretary general of Bouteflika's National Liberation Front, Abdelaziz Belkhadem, said last week that 45 percent would be a satisfactory rate.

The regime has tried to assuage fears of fraud by inviting some 500 foreign election observers but Algeria is four times the size of France and few voters seemed convinced.

The head of the European Union obseration mission, Jose Ignacio Salafranca, told reporters that polling was conducted in "generally satisfactory" conditions.

The Algerian electoral commission said it had received dozens of complaints, including some concerning two ministers who are accused of campaigning around polling stations and now face legal proceedings.

Algeria has witnessed more self-immolations than Tunisia since 2011 and many people cannot understand how a state with foreign exchange reserves of $182 billion does not do more to improve their lives.

Social discontent and deadly riots rattled Algeria in January 2011 when popular revolts were spreading across the region but the regime snuffed out the protests with a sprinkling of political reforms and pay rises.

Forty-four parties – 21 of them newly created – are battling for seats in an enlarged 462-strong parliament, in what Bouteflika has hailed as "the dawn of a new era".

His FLN party has been steadily losing ground since pluralism was introduced in 1989 and has 136 seats in the outgoing assembly.

Belkhadem said the FLN would remain the top party but it is expected to share power.

The FLN is currently in a coalition with the National Rally for Democracy of Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and the Movement of Society for Peace (MSP), a moderate Islamist party loyal to the regime.

The MSP hopes it can cash in on the so-called "Green wave" that swept Islamists to the helm in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt in the wake of the Arab Spring.

But it lacks credibility with the radical Islamist base and is often described as a token party created by the regime to occupy the religious ground.

Many Algerians believe the country had its own, failed Arab Spring when the one-party system ended and the now banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) won the first round of the ensuing 1991 election, considered the last free polls.

The army interrupted the vote, sparking a brutal decade-long civil war that left around 200,000 people dead.



Date created : 2012-05-11

  • ALGERIA

    Algeria votes amid fears of widespread abstention

    Read more

  • MALI - ALGERIA

    Mali kidnappers willing to release Algerian diplomats

    Read more

  • FRANCE - RACISM

    Sarkozy admits France abandoned Algerian loyalists

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)