Politics & Economics

Former PM Abdelmadjid Tebboune elected Algerian president

North Africa

Former prime minister received 58 per cent of votes in recent poll, although the elections were marred by protests across the country, including i the capital Algiers

Former prime minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune won Algeria’s presidential election with 58.15 per cent of the vote, according to preliminary results declared on Friday.

Thursday’s vote was fiercely opposed by a nine-month-old protest movement calling for a complete overhaul of the political system. The low turnout of about 40 per cent was in part because protesters called for a boycott of what they called a sham vote.

The decisive win by 74-year-old Mr Tebboune followed earlier reports that no candidate appeared likely to get a majority, leading to expectations of a run-off vote between the two front runners.

The runner up was Abdlekader Bengrina, a former minister, who received 17.38 per cent of the vote, elections officials announced on television.

Opponents of the election had gathered at some polling stations and in the rebellious Amazigh – or Berber – region to the east of the capital, on Thursday. A video purported to show ballot boxes being seized and ballots scattered on the ground.

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The protesters say the election will only keep the ruling elite in power, that they are not transparent or fair. The government have been accused of tampering with results in previous elections and there are no international election monitors.

The five candidates, who all served under or supported ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, are not considered to represent the opposition Hirak movement – named after the Arabic for mobilisation – or pose a threat to the ruling elite.

Hirak supporters refer to the candidates as “the gang” and their grip on power as “le pouvoir”, seeing them as a civilian facade for military rule.

The conviction of two former prime ministers on corruption charges earlier this week was seen as an attempt to show the public that the government was willing and able to reform.

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De facto ruler Lt Gen Ahmed Gaed Salah, who triggered the legislature move to force the 82-year-old Mr Bouteflika to step down due to ill health, pushed for the vote as the only way to end the crisis, but protests have stepped up in recent days.

The arrest of protest leader Kaddour Chouicha on Tuesday shows the regime is nervous about the protests. He was sentenced to one year in prison on the same day on the grounds of threatening public security and insulting a public institution.

A number of artists, journalists and activists have also been arrested.

The new president will be caught between the military and an unhappy population.

Algeria is the largest country in Africa and is a giant of gas and oil. It gained independence from France in 1962.

Image: EPA, AFP

Article: The National