Algerians voted this Saturday to choose their deputies in early legislative elections, a ballot rejected by the protest movement of Hirak and part of the opposition, and marked again by a very strong abstention.
This is the first legislative since the unprecedented and peaceful popular uprising, born on February 22, 2019 from the rejection of a 5th term of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, pushed almost two months later to resign after 20 years of reign.
Main issue, the national participation rate reached only 30.20%, the lowest score for at least 20 years for legislative elections, according to the president of the National Independent Election Authority (ANIE), Mohamed Chorfi.
By way of comparison, it stood at 35.70% during the last legislative elections in 2017 (42.90% in 2012).
Turnout is even down compared to the 2019 presidential election, which saw Abdelmadjid Tebboune elected with only 40% of the vote, a record abstention for such an election.
But whatever happens, the power will live with it.
“For me, the turnout doesn't matter.
What matters to me is that those for whom the people vote have sufficient legitimacy, ”President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has already explained.
The color of the next assembly should emerge on Sunday but the official results could not be announced before 96 hours, specified the president of the ANIE.
Voting operations took place generally calmly in Algiers, where voters were counted on the fingers of one hand, and in the provinces, except in Kabylia, a rebellious region where participation was already almost zero in previous polls.
Ransacked ballot boxes
In Kabylia (northeast), almost all the polling stations have closed in Béjaïa and Tizi Ouzou, the most populous cities in the Berber-speaking region, according to the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights and the National Committee for the release of prisoners (CNLD).
Clashes broke out in several Kabyle municipalities, with looting of the ballot boxes, and the police carried out dozens of arrests, according to the LADDH and the CNLD.
Images of ballot papers littering the streets in Kabylia circulated on social networks.
The CNLD also reported arrests in Algiers and in the neighboring town of Boumerdès.
2,288 electoral lists in total
Before the elections, the Hirak, who calls in vain for a radical change in the "system" of governance in place since independence (1962), denounced an "electoral masquerade" and "a headlong rush" of the regime.
The secular and leftist opposition boycotted the ballot.
Whatever, the government is determined to impose its electoral "road map", ignoring the demands of Hirak: rule of law, democratic transition, popular sovereignty, independent justice.
Some 24 million Algerians were called upon to elect the 407 deputies of the National People's Assembly for five years.
They had to choose from 2,288 lists, of which more than 1,200 advertised as "independent".
Breakthrough of the independents
This is the first time that such a large number of independents have come forward against contenders endorsed by parties largely discredited and held responsible for the crisis in the country.
The winners of previous legislative elections in 2017, the National Liberation Front and the National Democratic Rally, associated with the Bouteflika era, are now discredited.
It will also be necessary to reckon with the moderate Islamist movement which took part in the election.
Some analysts predict a relative majority in the new assembly.
Before the ballot, the Chief of Staff, General Saïd Chengriha, warned against "any plan or action aimed at disrupting the conduct" of the vote.
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