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Elections increase Algeria’s crises, Islamic front says

April 11, 2017 at 3:23 pm

A voting booth in Algeria [Flickr]

Algeria’s upcoming parliamentary elections are no more than extensions of the country’s crises, Quds Press reported the senior leader of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) Ali Belhadj saying on Sunday.

Belhadj, the cofounder of the FIS who spent more than a decade in prison over his political activities, described the elections as “merely a form of political folklore which is useless to Algeria.”

The electoral campaign for the elections of the lower chamber of parliament started on Sunday. It is the country’s fifth election since the Constitution of plurality and political openness was adopted in 1989.

Read: ‘Your votes do matter’, Algeria tells citizens

Some 53 political parties are running in the elections on about 1,000 electoral lists. The voters are going to choose 463 MPs for a five-year term.

Speaking to Quds Press, Belhadj said: “The electoral wedding is being carried out without a groom,” referring to the absence of the Algerian president from the political arena. He said that President Abdul-Aziz Boutaflika has had very few public appearances over the past five years.

The upcoming parliament are designed for the “business minority” and serve only the “interests of the rich, not the Algerian people”, he added.

‘Political folklore’

In light of the “political exclusion” of the FIS, Belhadj stressed that the elections are not “real” and are nothing more than a form of “political folklore” aimed at beautifying the political process in the country.

Sheikh Ali Belhadj

Image of Ali Belhadj [File photo]

Ali Belhadj and his Front had been banned from political activities for more than two decades. FIS was created in 1989, went for municipal and parliamentarian elections in 1990 and 1991 and achieved resounding victories.

In January 1992, the elections were cancelled, Belhadj along with around 20,000 Algerians were put in prisons and the old regime continued ruling the country. They remained in prisons in the heart of the desert until 2005, when the law of national reconciliation was approved.

However, Belhadj and his front remained banned from political activities. In violation of the Constitution, a presidential order that imposed severe restrictions on Belhadj’s movement, which is almost a form of house arrest, was signed by Boutaflika on 18 December 2016.