Al­ge­ria an­nounces can­di­dates to stand in pres­i­den­tial elec­tion op­posed by pub­lic

Prom­ises to make De­cem­ber vote fair and trans­par­ent fail to ap­pease pro­test­ers call­ing for change

The National - News - - NEWS -

Al­ge­ria’s elec­toral body named two for­mer prime min­is­ters among five can­di­dates for the coun­try’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion next month, as mass protests against the vote con­tin­ued.

Au­thor­i­ties say the elec­tion, which will be held on Thurs­day, De­cem­ber 12, was the only way to get the coun­try out of a cri­sis that be­gan in April when Ab­de­laziz Boute­flika re­signed as pres­i­dent un­der pres­sure from pro­test­ers.

Can­di­dates in­clude for­mer prime min­is­ters Ab­del­mad­jid Teb­boune and Ali Ben­flis, for­mer cul­ture min­is­ter Azze­dine Mi­houbi, for­mer tourism min­is­ter Ab­delka­der Ben­g­rina and Ab­de­laziz Be­laid, head of Al Mus­taqbal Move­ment party.

They were an­nounced by Mo­hamed Chorfi, the head of the elec­tion author­ity.

Al­most two dozen po­ten­tial can­di­dates ap­plied to the elec­tion author­ity, but most failed to meet the re­quire­ments to be con­sid­ered. Those re­jected will be al­lowed to file ap­peals.

Tens of thou­sands of pro­test­ers have been stag­ing weekly demon­stra­tions to re­ject the elec­tion, say­ing the vote will not be fair as some of Mr Boute­flika’s al­lies are still in power.

Mr Boute­flika was forced to step down af­ter two decades in of­fice, with demon­stra­tors call­ing for the re­moval of the rul­ing elite and the pros­e­cu­tion of peo­ple in­volved in cor­rup­tion dur­ing mass protests that be­gan in Fe­bru­ary.

The army is now the main player in Al­ge­rian pol­i­tics and its chief of staff Lt Gen Ahmed Gaid Salah promised trans­parency and fair­ness in the De­cem­ber vote.

Al­ge­rian au­thor­i­ties also met some of the pro­test­ers’ de­mands by de­tain­ing sev­eral for­mer of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing two for­mer prime min­is­ters, over cor­rup­tion charges.

Pro­test­ers also want the re­main­ing sym­bols of the old guard to be re­moved, in­clud­ing in­terim pres­i­dent Ab­delka­der Ben­salah and Prime Min­is­ter Noured­dine Be­doui.

Al­ge­ria can­celled an elec­tion sched­uled for July 4 due to a lack of can­di­dates and a low voter turnout is ex­pected the poll next month.

“There will be full trans­parency in the han­dling of the elec­tion,” Mr Chorfi said.

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