Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Algerian presidential elections ‘impossible’ on July 4

Algeria’s constitutional council said on Sunday it was impossible to hold elections to choose a successor to ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika early next month as planned, after the only two candidates were rejected.

The move comes after weeks of demonstrations intended to pressure political leaders into postponing the vote.

“The constitutional council rejects the candidature applications” and as a result has announced “the impossibility of holding presidential elections on July 4”, the council said in a statement carried by national television.

It will now be up to interim president Abdelkader Bensalah to “again convene the electoral body and to finalise the electoral process” until a new leader is sworn in, the council said.

Bensalah, the former upper house speaker, was appointed on April 9 under constitutional rules which deem a presidential election must then be held within 90 days.

With that deadline certain to be missed, the constitutional council suggested his mandate be extended.

The planned vote has drawn widespread protests, with Algerian demonstrators demanding Bouteflika allies step aside to make way for a broader political overhaul before any elections are held.

“No elections with this gang in power,” protesters shouted in central Algiers on Friday, as demonstrations were held across the country.

Crowds in the capital filled central avenues where they shouted slogans rejecting the army chief’s push for dialogue.

General Ahmed Gaid Salah on Tuesday called for “mutual concessions” between Algeria’s interim leaders and protesters, with “productive dialogue” to ensure elections were held as soon as possible.

The army chief has emerged as a key powerbroker since Bouteflika stepped down on April 2 in the face of mass protests against his bid for a fifth term.

‘High-risk victory’

Gaid Salah had been an ally of the ailing president, but as pressure from demonstrators mounted he ultimately called for the long-time leader’s impeachment.

Protesters have since called for Gaid Salah to step down, along with other top figures they argue are tainted by their allegiance to Bouteflika during his 20-year rule.

While Gaid Salah had pushed for polls, July 4 looked increasingly implausible as no major party nominated a candidate.

A major obstacle emerged when some mayors and magistrates said they would not take part in organising the polls.

The two unknown figures who put themselves forward — Abdelhakim Hamadi and Hamid Touahri — had not been expected to gather the necessary 60 000 voter signatures to validate their bid for office.

The decision to postpone the presidential election was described as a “victory for the street, but a high-risk victory” by Geneva-based political scientist Hasni Abidi.

“With this decision, those in power are taking a path which they won’t have control over anymore. The army wants to show that it is demonstrating common sense and making a concession in the face of an uncompromising street [movement],” he said.

The demonstrations have been largely tolerated by security officials overwhelmed by the crowds.

But dozens of people were detained ahead of Friday’s rally, and numerous arrests were made a week earlier during a protest in central Algiers.

© Agence France-Presse

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Johannesburg council member Jolidee Matongo touted as front-runner to take...

The ANC will likely announce a candidate to take over as the city’s mayor next week after consultation with provincial and national leaders

Covid-19 jab: a ticket of responsibility, not a ticket to...

Being fully vaccinated ‘makes you a little bit more comfortable in your skin’, says 61-year-old Elize Parker

More top stories

Johannesburg council member Jolidee Matongo touted as front-runner to take...

The ANC will likely announce a candidate to take over as the city’s mayor next week after consultation with provincial and national leaders

Clashes in Tunisia after president ousts PM amid Covid protests

Street clashes erupted Monday outside Tunisia's army-barricaded parliament, a day after President Kais Saied ousted the prime minister and suspended the legislature, plunging the young democracy into a constitutional crisis

Five things to watch in the Zambian elections

Zambia will hold presidential elections in three weeks’ time amidst an ongoing economic crisis and rising political tensions. These are the five most important things to look out for in the elections

Covid-19 jab: a ticket of responsibility, not a ticket to...

Being fully vaccinated ‘makes you a little bit more comfortable in your skin’, says 61-year-old Elize Parker
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×