Magistrates in Algeria say they will boycott elections

More than 100 magistrates staged a protest outside the justice ministry in response to a call by the Magistrates’ Club
Algerian lawyers and judges chant slogans and raise a national flag as they gather for a demonstration for the independence of the judiciary outside the Justice Ministry headquarters in the capital Algiers on April 13, 2019. (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

Algeria’s magistrates, who play a key role overseeing the country’s elections, said Saturday they would boycott a July 4 presidential election in support of the protest movement.

Protestors have held vast rallies calling for allies of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down after the veteran leader quit early this month.

They have rejected the July poll, arguing that elections cannot be free and fair if they are held under the same judicial framework and institutions as those of the Bouteflika regime.

Interim leader Abdelkader Bensalah has pledged a “transparent” vote but protestors have called for him to leave office too.

More than 100 magistrates staged a protest outside the justice ministry on Saturday in response to a call by the Magistrates’ Club — a nascent group set up as an alternative to the regime’s National Magistrates’ Syndicate (SNM).

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“The Magistrates’ Club has decided to boycott the task of supervising the presidential election,” said Saad Eddine Merzoug, a judge from El Oued in the country’s southeast.

Merzoug said the new club had members at every court in the country, without specifying numbers.

Magistrates play a major role organising votes in Algeria. Notably, they oversee the electoral roll, a frequent source of disputes between the regime and the opposition.

A revision of the register is set to take place later this month, ahead of the July election.

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