Algerians choose their deputies on Saturday in early legislative elections, rejected by the Hirak protest movement and part of the opposition.
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This is the first legislative since the unprecedented and peaceful popular uprising, born on February 22, 2019 from the rejection of a 5th term of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, pushed almost two months later to resign after 20 years of reign.
Main stake: the participation which promises to be low again, as for the previous electoral consultations, the presidential election of 2019 and the constitutional referendum of 2020, marked by a historic abstention.
At 4 p.m., the national turnout reached 14.47%, a very low score, according to the president of the National Independent Election Authority (ANIE), Mohamed Chorfi.
But whatever happens, the power will accommodate itself.
For me, the turnout doesn't matter.
What matters to me is that those for whom the people vote have sufficient legitimacy
, ”said President Abdelmadjid Tebboune after having voted in Algiers.
The closing of the polling stations was postponed by one hour, to 8 p.m., according to ANIE.
The official results are expected in principle on Sunday.
Voting operations took place generally in peace in Algiers, where voters were rare, and in the provinces, except in Kabylia, a rebellious region where participation was almost nil in previous elections.
The Algerians paraded in droplets in the voting booths, according to AFP journalists on the spot.
I never voted and this time it's the same.
I don't think things can change,
”said Fatiha, a 50-year-old trader.
I voted for stability (...) Those who refuse the ballot offer no realistic alternative
", pleaded for his part Hamid, a 60-year-old executive.
Chauffourées in Kabylia
In Kabylia, east of Algiers, almost all the polling stations were closed in Béjaïa and Tizi Ouzou, the most populous cities in the Berber-speaking region, according to the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights and the National Committee for the Release of Prisoners (CNLD).
Clashes broke out in several Kabyle localities and the police carried out dozens of arrests, according to these two NGOs.
Images of ballot papers littering the streets in Kabylia circulated on social networks.
The CNLD also reported arrests in Algiers and in the neighboring town of Boumerdès.
Before the elections, the Hirak, who calls in vain for a radical change in the "
" of governance in place since independence (1962), denounced an "
The secular and leftist opposition boycotted the ballot.
The regime is determined to impose its
", ignoring the demands of Hirak - rule of law, democratic transition, popular sovereignty, independent justice.
Some 24 million Algerians are called upon to elect the 407 deputies of the National People's Assembly for five years.
They must choose from 2,288 lists, of which more than 1,200 are displayed as "
This is the first time that such a large number of independents have come forward against contenders endorsed by parties largely discredited and held responsible for the crisis in the country.
The winners of previous legislative elections in 2017, the National Liberation Front and the National Democratic Rally, associated with the Bouteflika era, are now discredited.
It will also be necessary to reckon with the moderate Islamist movement which took part in the election.
Before the ballot, the Chief of Staff, General Saïd Chengriha, warned against "
any plan or action aimed at disrupting the conduct
" of the vote.
Considered as a civilian facade of the military institution, the government has made efforts in recent months to stifle protest, banning demonstrations and increasing arrests and legal proceedings targeting opponents, activists, journalists and lawyers.
Some 222 people are currently imprisoned for acts related to Hirak and / or individual freedoms, according to the CNLD.
Believing that it has already responded to Hirak's demands, the government has denied for several months any legitimacy to this movement without real leaders, which it accuses of being instrumentalized by "
For the spokesperson of the government, Amar Belhimer, "
these honest and transparent elections will defeat all the diabolical machinations fomented by laboratories with destructive aims