Eggs, protests and ap­a­thy mar Al­ge­ria’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Al­giers, Al­ge­ria - Al­ge­ria’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign is in trou­ble. Can­di­dates are strug­gling to fill rally venues, cam­paign man­agers have quit, vot­ers have pelted cam­paign head­quar­ters with toma­toes and eggs, and the coun­try’s 9 month old prodemoc­racy move­ment calls the whole thing a sham.

The five can­di­dates seek­ing to re­place Pres­i­dent Ab­de­laziz Boute­flika in the De­cem­ber 12 elec­tion have failed to cap­ti­vate a dis­il­lu­sioned pub­lic. Boute­flika was pushed out in April af­ter 20 years in power amid an ex­cep­tional, peace­ful protest move­ment, and now demon­stra­tors want a whole­sale change of po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship.

In­stead, the elec­tion is man­aged by the long-serv­ing power struc­ture of this oil- and gas-rich coun­try with a strate­gic role in the Mediter­ranean re­gion. In­stead of new faces, two of the can­di­dates are for­mer prime min­is­ters and one is a loy­al­ist of Al­ge­ria’s in­flu­en­tial army chief.

The Hi­rak protest move­ment held their 41st weekly demon­stra­tions on Fri­day, de­nounc­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. But for the first time, thou­sands of pro­gov­ern­ment sup­port­ers held their own rally on Satur­day.

The can­di­dates have tried to con­vince vot­ers that tak­ing part in the elec­tion is the only alternativ­e to chaos, an al­lu­sion to the civil war that rav­aged Al­ge­ria in the 1990s. But that ar­gu­ment falls flat among the pro­test­ers with demon­stra­tors calm­ing each other down and en­sur­ing that no one pro­vokes po­lice.


People gather on the 41st con­sec­u­tive Fri­day demon­stra­tion against the gov­ern­ment in Al­giers on Fri­day

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