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Dozens of mayors in Algeria rejected holding presidential elections

April 16, 2019 at 12:21 am

Algerians chant slogans and march with protest signs as they gather for an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on April 12, 2019. [RYAD KRAMDI / AFP / Getty]

About 40 out of 1541 mayors in Algeria announced on Sunday that they refuse to participate in the presidential elections scheduled for July 4, in solidarity with the protest movement against the regime.

Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah said Wednesday that the presidential elections would be held on July 4 to choose a successor to Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who stepped down after the army stopped supporting him under pressure of mass protests over several weeks.

Municipalities in Algeria play an important role in overseeing electoral lists, organising the elections, conducting the electoral process, and counting votes.

The position of mayors who refused to hold presidential elections came in solidarity with judges who decided Monday to boycott the elections.

However, the party that called for a boycott of the elections has not specified the number of judges refusing to supervise the electoral process.

READ: Protests again in Algeria to demand political change 

Judges play a pivotal role in organising elections in Algeria. They are particularly charged with overseeing electoral lists, which is a permanent point of contention between the opposition and the authority.

The opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) party said in a statement that all its deputies categorically rejected holding and supervising the elections, describing them as fake.

The party controls 37 municipalities, mainly concentrated in the provinces of Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia in the Kabylie region, which is witnessing protests.

There are 1,541 municipalities in Algeria, mostly controlled by the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the Democratic National Rally (RND). Protesters have been sharply critical of the two parties for their 20-year running of the country under Bouteflika rule.

In a letter to the governor which was published on Facebook, the Mayor of Tizi Ouzou region, who is a member of the National Liberation Front, announced the boycott of elections on 4 July as revealed by someone close to him to AFP. Another politically independent mayor followed him.

According to the protest movement, the bodies and figures which are already appointed by Bouteflika’s “regime” and which are charged with organising the upcoming presidential elections cannot guarantee the freedom and integrity of the elections.