Algerian Elections: Opposition cry foul, Islamists threaten

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The just concluded Algerian election that witnessed its incumbent president Mr. Abdelaziz Bouteflika retain office for the third term in a row, has been described as a tsunami of colossal fraud. Islamist militia threaten subsequent violent attacks. During the election, a polling station was bombed, wounding two soldiers in the eastern part of the country.

According to Ali Yehya Abdel-Nour, Former head of Algeria’s human rights league, the election’s outcome, had been decided last November, when the government chose to amend the constitution to allow Mr Bouteflika to run for a third five-year term in office.

Mr. Abdel-Nour said that the official voter turn-out figures were exaggerated while some opposition parties described the election as a charade. The Front of Socialist Forces, who sensed foul play, however, refused to participate in the election. But despite their grievances and strong accusations, French foreign ministry spokesman, Eric Chevallier, refused to be drawn on these allegations.

“There were observers from the African Union, from the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League in Algeria. We’ll have a look at their reports. In any case, the vote took place peacefully, according to all the news we have so far,” Chevallier said.

Interior Minister, Mr. Yazid Zerhouni said President Bouteflika secured 90.24% of the vote in Thursday’s elections. The presidents nearest rival was Louisa Hanoune of the Trotskyist Workers’ Party with 4.22% of the vote. Moussa Touati of the Algerian National Front came third with 2.31%.

Algeria is still recovering from the civil war it suffered in the 1990s which left up to 200,000 people dead. The conflict was triggered when the military intervened in a parliamentary poll in 1991 to stop an Islamist victory. Suspected Islamists have staged some 20 attacks so far this year and more attacks are suspected to be carried out, following the re-election of Mr. Bouteflika for the third term.

Critics say Mr Bouteflika faced relatively unknown challengers and had a well-funded campaign and that he is using the threat of renewed violence from Islamic militants to mask the country’s deeper problems of poverty, high unemployment and corruption.

President Bouteflika, who is 72, has promised to spend $150bn on development projects and create three million jobs. He also stresses the fact that he has restored stability to Algeria.

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