One snub, one more. Algerians massively shunned the ballot box on Sunday, when they were called upon to ratify a constitutional revision supposed to found a “new Republic” and put an end to popular protest.
The result of the referendum will be announced on Monday at 10 a.m. The turnout has already been communicated: 23.7% of voters, announced late in the evening Mohamed Charfi, president of the National Independent Election Authority (ANIE). Only 5.5 million voters out of 23.5 million registered. The 900,000 voters in the diaspora are not counted, but the participation rate is reduced abroad to a single figure, according to ANIE.
Opponents were not allowed to hold rallies
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and the soldiers who surround him had presented this reform as proof that they were tackling the causes of the anger of the population, which protests massively every Friday, for more than a year, against the power in square. Members of “Hirak”, the protest movement – now banned – which pushed Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign in April 2019 after twenty years of reign, denounced a sham and called for a boycott. The Islamists, them, urged to vote “no”, but like all the opponents they were not allowed to hold public meetings.
During the presidential election of December 2019, the turnout had reached 39.93%, the lowest rate of all pluralist presidential polls in the history of Algeria, making Abdelmadjid Tebboune a poorly elected president and therefore in search of legitimacy. Sunday, he was absent from Algiers. The former senior official, 74, has been hospitalized since Wednesday in Germany for “in-depth examinations” after the announcement of suspected cases of coronavirus in his entourage. His condition would be “stable and not worrying”, according to the presidency, which has not given any news since Thursday. It was his wife who voted for him by means of a proxy in a school in Algiers. A cartoon from the newspaper El Watan showed a man in a voting booth looking at ballots marked in German rather than Arabic.
Arrests in Algiers and Tizi-Ouzou
The Covid-19 pandemic could also explain this disaffection, Algeria having recorded more than 300 new cases on Saturday. In order to limit contact cases, access to the offices was limited to two or three people at a time and the wearing of a mask was compulsory.
Although pro-government media showed a crowd of young men in a city rushing to a polling station as soon as it opened, the lines to vote in the capital were short. In Kabylia, a stronghold of support for “Hirak” and the center of an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, demonstrators blocked polling stations, which were unable to open. Social networks also reported night marches, clashes with police, as well as destroyed ballot boxes and ballots.
Arrests took place in Algiers and Tizi-Ouzou, according to the National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD).
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr