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Algerian parties boycott consultations session with authorities

Thousands of students, doctors and civil servants stage a protest to demand President Abdelaziz Bouteflika step from power, in front of Central Post Office Square in Algiers, Algeria on March 19, 2019 [Farouk Batiche / Anadolu Agency]
Thousands of students, doctors and civil servants stage a protest to demand President Abdelaziz Bouteflika step from power, in front of Central Post Office Square in Algiers, Algeria on 19 March 2019 [Farouk Batiche / Anadolu Agency]

The majority of the Algerian political parties have boycotted a consultations session called for by the transitional president, Abdelkader Bensalah, to form the presidential election committee, scheduled for 4 July, to choose the successor of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The transitional president did not attend the opening of the session as scheduled, and only sent on behalf on him the Presidency Secretary-General, Habba Al-Aqabi.

Al-Aqabi underestimated the impact of the invitees’ absence, considering “the consultations will continue with political actors and constitutional law experts, not only for one day. This is the will of the state.”

The demonstrators refused to organise the elections on the date set by the transitional president and demanded the departure of all symbols of the “regime” on top of whom Bensalah himself, and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.

Read: Young Algerian protester dies of injuries; police accused

For Al-Aqabi, the elections will take place on the “date announced by the president, as already dictated by the constitution,” which sets the deadline for the organisation of the elections 90 days starting from the date of the transitional president’s ascension to power, after Bouteflika’s resignation on 2 April  under public and army pressures.

All the opposition parties and the majority of the parties of the former presidential coalition, as well as the independent figures to which the presidency sent an invitation, have boycotted the consultations session.

Three parties, the National Republican Alliance, the Movement for National Reform, and a representative of the National Liberation Front, who supported Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth term, have attended the session. The session was also attended by Front El Moustakbal, whose representative left immediately after the organisers asked the press to move out so the consultations could hold a closed session.

A representative of El Moustakbal front, Abdallah Wafi, protested against the journalists’ exclusion from the meetings room, rejecting “the consultations’ holding away from the eyes of the Algerian people.”

The Algerian presidency called all political parties, unions, civil society organisations, and experts in constitutional law for a consultation meeting, which “would mainly deal with the general form and functions of the committee that would be charged with the preparation and organisation of elections,” according to a document distributed by the presidency to journalists.

According to the document, the new committee can carry out all functions assigned to the public administration, especially the Ministry of the Interior “starting from reviewing the electoral lists and monitoring the circumstances in which the electoral campaign is conducted, reaching the provisional announcement of the elections’ results.”

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