Algerians are expected to come out en masse on Thursday and cast their votes in the widely opposed presidential election. There have been protests against the presidential election spanning a period of 9 months. Algerians are protesting because they see the election as the regime ploy to hijack power.
Though no opinion polls have been published, observers predict high voter apathy in Thursday’s election. This is not surprising judging from a widely-held view by the voters that the political system is rigid and uncountable.
Overseas polling booths for expat Algerians opened Saturday, but have been almost empty. The few who cast their votes face a barrage of insults from angry protesters.
Direche, of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), said that despite being traditionally conservative and close to the regime, today the diaspora “is mobilised against the election”.
The outcome of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s February announcement of a fifth term bid was an unprecedented nationwide protest that forced the 82-year-old to resign.
Protesters continued with their weekly rallies, demanding the total dismantling of the military-dominated system that has ruled Algeria since independence in 1962.
The military high command which has wielded power from behind the scenes was forced to take a front-line role in government but refused to bow to pressures from protesters calling for reforms.
The regime has also refused to yield to demands to replace the constitution that served to legitimise Bouteflika’s grip on power.
Rather, the army pushed for an election to pick a replacement for Bouteflika, saying it is the only way to resolve the political crisis.
A previous poll set for July 4 was abandoned for lack of viable candidates and interim president Abdelkader Bensalah’s term technically ended five months ago.
A caretaker government, appointed by Bouteflika two days before he quit, remains in post, led by his longtime ally Noureddine Bedoui.