News

Algerian Opposition Groups Boycotting Presidential Vote

Algerians go to the polls on Thursday to cast their ballots in a presidential election. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is running for re-election in a vote that some opposition parties are boycotting.

President Bouteflika has been the leading candidate since the constitution was changed to allow him to stand for a third consecutive five-year term.

While officially running as an independent, he has been endorsed by Algeria's three largest political parties, which together control more than 80 percent of the seats in parliament.

First elected in 1999, President Bouteflika has focused mainly on national security concerns and the threat of Islamic extremism.  He offered widespread pardons to repentant terrorists and security forces, calling himself the "architect of national reconciliation".

But with the decline in the price of oil and natural gas, which accounts for about one-third of Algeria's gross domestic product, Mr. Bouteflika increasingly has turned to broader social issues.  In this year's campaign, he is promising to raise Algeria's minimum wage, create new jobs, build more affordable housing and write off debts owed by farmers.

Algerian driver Abdulkadir Benhudia says the economy is the biggest issue for voters.

Benhudia says life is so expensive that many men in their 30s and 40s have no homes, no jobs and no money to get married.  He says he hopes that politicians will improve the situation.  But he wonders how much will really change if the same leaders are re-elected.

Mr. Bouteflika is facing five challengers, including the first Algerian woman to run for president, Louisa Hanoune.  She is the secretary general of the Algerian Workers' Party and is campaigning for a more inclusive, secular government.

University student Shema Arbia says women are ignored in Algeria.

Arbia says she hopes the election will improve conditions for young women who she says have no value in society.  She says self-interested politicians have done nothing to help young people, so many younger voters see the election as meaningless.

Two of Algeria's leading opposition parties are boycotting the ballot, including the Movement for Culture and Democracy, which is flying a black flag in front of its party headquarters instead of the Algerian flag.  Party President Said Sadi says they are mourning democracy.

Al-Qaida's North Africa wing is also urging Algerians to stay away from the polls.  Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb began as an insurrection against Algeria's secular military rulers after the government canceled the second round of parliamentary elections in 1992, when it appeared that a coalition of Islamist groups might take power.

The group claimed responsibility for a series of bombings in Algeria last year and says it is holding several foreign hostages, including a United Nations special representative who was kidnapped in Niger.

Because of security concerns surrounding this week's vote, there have been no major rallies or parades.  All campaigning has been indoors in private homes or community and sports centers.

More than 20,000,000 Algerians are registered to vote.  The Arab League has 87 electoral observers on hand.

Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, who is leading 100 observers from the African Union, says he is impressed by the openness of the electoral process so far and that he is watching to see how freely the nation's media will be allowed to report results.

While polls in most of Algeria do not open until Thursday morning, desert nomads in southern Algeria began voting on Saturday.  So too did hundreds of thousands of expatriates, the vast majority of whom live in France where they cast their ballots at more than 100 polling stations across the country.

Results are expected on Friday.  Most election observers expect President Bouteflika to win far more than the 50 percent of the vote required to avoid a second round of balloting.


This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs