Tebboune Elected Algeria’s President

0
349
A man holds a sign reading" No vote", during a protest rejecting the presidential election in Algiers, Algeria December 11, 2019. Reuters

Former Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected Algeria’s new president, but demonstrators who toppled his predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika vowed that their movement would not stop.

Tebboune, who served as housing minister under Bouteflika and briefly as premier before falling out with tycoons in the ex-leader’s entourage, was announced on Friday as the winner of more than half the vote, making a second round unnecessary.

Tebboune 74, was elected with 58.15 percent of the vote.

Authorities said 40 percent of voters had taken part in Thursday’s election, which state media cast as a high enough turnout to vindicate the decision to hold the poll in spite of a boycott.

Thousands of demonstrators were expected to take to the streets to protest the result.

On polling day Thursday, protesters defied a heavy police presence to hold a mass rally in the heart of the capital Algiers and smaller demonstrations in provincial cities.

The election had been championed by the army as a way of restoring stability almost 10 months into a protest movement that in April ousted Bouteflika after two decades in office.

All five of the candidates in Thursday’s vote were widely rejected by protesters as “children of the regime”.

On Thursday, a record six in 10 Algerians abstained, the electoral authority chairman, Mohamed Charfi, said, the highest rate for a multi-party election since independence from France in 1962.

Tens of thousands rallied in central Algiers, where police with water cannon and helicopters tried to disperse protesters.

After dark, witnesses reported ongoing scuffles between police and protesters in the Belouizdad neighborhood close to the city center.

In the mountain region of Kabylie, home to much of the country’s Berber minority and historically opposed to the central government, protesters ransacked polling stations and clashed with police, residents said.

In the city of Bejaia, two polling stations were attacked. In Tizi Ouzou, security forces fired teargas to disperse a crowd who had surrounded a government building, triggering a standoff into the night in which several people were wounded.

In central Algiers, young protesters slammed those casting their ballots as “traitors of the nation”.

Other voters said they had turned out because after nearly a year of turmoil it was time for a return to stability.

The “Hirak” street movement kicked off when Bouteflika announced in February that he would seek a fifth term in office.

Protesters have stayed on the streets ever since, demanding the total dismantling of the system that has ruled Algeria since independence.

Demonstrators have vented their anger at army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who has emerged as Algeria’s de facto strongman since Bouteflika stepped down.

A previous poll set for July was scrapped for lack of viable candidates and interim president Abdelkader Bensalah’s term technically ended five months ago.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.