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Algeria: president ratifies open list electoral law for first time

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune meets with the visiting French Foreign Minister (unseen) in the capital Algiers on January 21, 2020. - Le Drian arrived to Algiers for a brief visit to discuss bilateral and regional issues, starting with the Libyan crisis and the Sahel. (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP) (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI/AFP via Getty Images)

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has ratified a new electoral law that adopts an open list system for the first time in the country, Arabic Post has reported. Media sources believe that the law will come into effect in the June elections for municipal councils and the members of the People's Assembly.

The difference between an open and closed list system is that the former allows the voter to rearrange the candidates' positions in the list according to his or her preferences. The latter forces the voter to choose the list as it is and accept the order set by the party.

According to party and parliamentary leaders who have been tried in corruption cases related to elections, the first positions in the lists of prominent parties were bought by paying "bribes" in order to guarantee the candidate's entry to parliament or positions of influence in municipalities.

READ: Draft law to cancel citizenship from exiled opposition sparks anger in Algeria

The June elections will be the first since the current president came to power on 12 December 2019. Tebboune succeeded Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned following a popular uprising ten months earlier.

Algerians protest president's bid for 5th term - Cartoon [Mohammad Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Algerians protest president's bid for 5th term – Cartoon [Mohammad Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Tebboune is also expected to issue two new decrees, one regarding the open list law, and the other to summon the electoral body for new parliamentary and local elections. He told local media a few days ago that adopting an open list system would end political corruption that had affected previous elections.

The president's decisions come at a time when the Algerian people continue to join mass protests. Thousands of citizens took the streets on 5 March against the political and military elite in several cities across the country for the second Friday in a row. The UN has expressed concern over what it described as a crackdown against the protesters.

The demonstrations were resumed as part of the popular movement that suspended its weekly marches about a year ago due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The protest movement demands the departure of the old political establishment and calls on the army to stay away from politics.

Despite a heavy police presence on the streets, the protests went ahead. A spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that there is reliable information about hundreds of arrests across the country.

READ: We have met most of protesters' demands, says Algerian President

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