Algerian Politicians Call Local Elections 'Rigged'

Tensions are high following claims of local election-rigging from leaders of the Green Algeria Alliance as the country moves toward amending the constitution to allow President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for an unprecedented fourth term, reports Mohammad Sharraq.

al-monitor Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika smiles during a ballot for the regional and municipal elections at a polling station in Algiers Nov. 29, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Louafi Larbi.

Topics covered

electoral reform, corruption, algerian elections, abdelaziz bouteflika

Dec 10, 2012

Leaders of the Green Algeria Alliance put what they called the rigging of the local elections results “in the category of political corruption.”

They agreed that what they allege follows a set path, beginning with “meaningless reforms” and ending with amending the constitution, then granting a fourth term to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Commenting on the results of the Nov. 29 elections on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day — which fell on Dec. 9 — Bouguerra Soltani, leader of the Islamist Movement of Society for Peace (MSP), criticized what he called “political and administrative corruption at the highest levels.”

In a press conference held yesterday [Dec. 9] by the leaders of the alliance, he said that “elections were rife with political corruption. It has become a means to get rich, and money has become a means to run in the elections.”

He talked about elected MPs who “switched off their phones after selling their positions” within the context of the ongoing charged alliances in the governorates, aimed at heading the municipal councils. He described the situation as one of the most hideous forms of political corruption, which also includes political maneuvering.

Soltani, as well as his allies Fateh Rebai (leader of Ennahda) and Hamlawi Akoushi (leader of Al-Islah), refused to say that the Islamic movement has declined in Algeria as a result of the legislative and local elections.

Leader of the Algerian MSP said that from 1991 until 2012, the Islamic movement was dealt a series of blows. He noted that the Green Algeria Alliance came in third place with 1,100,000 votes, but that the alliance faltered and was replaced by a certain party that will probably be a top contender in the next presidential elections. Abu-Jarra meant the Algerian Popular Movement lead by Amara Ben Younes, but did not elaborate further.

Asked if the authorities, in his view, had tipped the balance in favor of Amara Ben Younes after having previously betted on Amar Ghoul’s party, he replied, “Ask Ben Younes and Ghoul.”

Soltani believes that what happened in the local elections sowed new seeds of despair, saying, “I rue the day when boycotting [the elections] became a national duty.”

The leader of the MSP expressed surprise at what he called “hybrid alliances” in the municipalities because “the relativity law was accompanied by hegemony on the ground.”

He described the alliances as “shakshouka” that cannot be eaten politically nor swallowed administratively, while “hegemony" is still being practiced by two parties, the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the National Rally for Democracy (RND).

He said that the results of the local elections, based on conferences between the two parties, were supposed to be devolved from the RND “but were kept in favor of the FLN on the 50th anniversary of independence.”

Fateh Rebai and Hamlawi Akoushi criticized “the race to open the presidential file and the fourth term before amending the constitution.” They said that the fourth term is linked to the constitutional amendment.

Soltani added, “What is happening in this regard is like doing a pole vault.” He added that “talk about the presidential election is premature, and the priority for us is to amend the constitution.”

Asked whether he would run for the presidency, the spokesman said, “Each party aspires to lead the country, but our decision is not linked to whether or not the president runs for a fourth term.''

Rebai stressed that “the local elections were a chapter in a play in our country that can be added to what happened on May 10.”

He said that the office of the People's National Assembly “rejected a commission of inquiry to look into the results of the legislative elections, giving a weak justification.” He said that “we will strive to achieve freedom, and we will not remain idle.”

Hamlawi Akoushi said, “We have understood very well what it means when they say ‘his time is over,’ but the president’s time is not over. Our time is over because of ourselves.''

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