Algerians go to the polls today
(Thursday) in presidential election in which incumbent President Abdelaziz
Bouteflika is expected to win a third consecutive term despite opposition
boycott. Promising stability and continuity as well
as a development plan to
create three million jobs and build a million homes, Bouteflika is expected to perform better than the last
election in which he won over 84 percent of the total vote. But opposition
parties have called for a boycott of today's election claiming it would not be
free, fair and
transparent. International observers including African Union and the Arab
League will monitor Thursday's general election. The government promised adequate security measures to protect voters in the
face of potential threats from armed groups in the Islamic Maghreb.
leader Anouar Hadam tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Bouteflika's
victory should not be recognized by the international community.
can tell that the election is just to confirm the status quo because since 1999
the Algerians have been deprived of a true democratic process. So, it is just a
déjà vu and that there is nothing new. And if you have real observers you can
see particularly in the big cities that you will have less than five to 10
percent participation in the election. The only challenge to the current
president is the boycott," Hadam noted.
said the incumbent government has made it impossible for the popular opposition
to fully participate in the election.
is actually because of the situation in Algeria where there are huge blocks and
there is no political life. Since the military coup in 1991 Algerians have been
deprived from their right to freely choose their political authority, and
having been accused of making the wrong choice so they see no reason to go and
vote again," he said.
said there was optimism among ordinary Algerians when the incumbent president
first came on the national scene promising national healing among others.
"And of course there has been one time
when in 1999 when for the first time President Bouteflika came with an agenda
of national reconciliation and of course the Algerian people had hope that
really he was the ma that could change the situation. But it was just a makeup
because he did nothing new and failed to live up to his promise," Hadam
He said the military seems
to be dictating the fate of all Algerians by not allowing any real democratic
principles to be entrenched.
"The problem is what we call
in Algeria the "deciders" because the deciding army generals decide the fate of
Algeria. So, they are really afraid of the political system in the country when
people are given the free will to choose their own leaders," he said.
Hadam said there is ample
evidence to show that incumbent President Bouteflika will not live up to his
word despite lofty campaign promises.
"Well he has been talking
about promises for the last 10 years, but what did he do? He did nothing
because the problem is that people are really fed up with lies from those who
aspire to leadership. And so if there is any reconciliation they (politicians)
have to reconcile with the ordinary people. They have to go back to respecting
the will of the people and their freedom of choice and they also have to
respect the people's choice to assemble and to form political parties to have a
real multiparty system. The military should go back to their barracks," Hadam
He denied the government's
assertion that Thursday's election would be free and transparent.
"Definitely this election
would be everything but fair and free election. Once you deprive the majority
party of the Islamic Salvation party and if there were free elections they
would have at least allowed the opposition parties participate in the election.
But since they were all prevented from being part of this election, they are
all calling for a boycott of today's election because they see that the
election will not be free and fair election. So, it is time to change the
situation and it is time to allow our people to choose freely their political
authority," he said.
During the campaigning, incumbent President Bouteflika
vowed he could offer a blanket amnesty if the last militants from al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa renounce their near-daily ambushes
or bombings and turn themselves in.
Islamists opposition leaders have called for a boycott of today's election
claiming the election would neither be free nor fair. The opposition also
accused the government of violating Algeria's laws after the incumbent president was allowed to run for a third unprecedented term.
Bouteflika was first elected with the army's backing in 1999 and again in
2004 and reportedly enjoys overwhelming support of all key government players.
Algeria national radio reported Wednesday that participation at Thursday's
election is expected to be about 75 percent in some of the election bureaus for
nomads in the southern Sahara Desert, who started voting early because of the
huge distances they have to cross on camel to cast their ballot.
Algerians have voiced indifference to the three-week campaign that has seen