While the early legislative elections are due to renew the National People’s Assembly on June 12, several critical figures of Algerian power have been arrested and part of the opposition is calling for a boycott of the ballot.
The early legislative elections are held on June 12 in Algeria where 24 million citizens are called to elect the 407 deputies of the National People’s Assembly (APN, lower house of Parliament) for a five-year term. More than 13,000 candidates present themselves on nearly 1,500 lists, more than half of which claim to be “independent”.
This is the first time that such a large number of independents have come forward against candidates from traditional political parties, whose image is compromised by the political and socio-economic crisis that is shaking Algeria. for 30 months. These newcomers, with a fuzzy affiliation, could establish themselves as a new force with the endorsement of power, which appealed to “young people” and encouraged their candidacies.
The stake of the participation rate will be decisive to establish the legitimacy of the government after the previous electoral consultations (presidential of 2019 and constitutional referendum of 2020), marked by a strong abstention (60% and 76% respectively). The Hirak protest movement, which is struggling to get representation, and part of the opposition called for a boycott of the ballot.
What I observe across the country does not say that the Algerians, in their majority, are opposed to the legislative elections
In a major interview given to the French weekly Point and published on June 2, the Algerian president commented on this call for a boycott. “What I observe throughout the country does not say that the Algerians, in their majority, are opposed to the legislative elections”, affirmed Abdelmadjid Tebboune. According to the Head of State, the call for a boycott does not come from “a good part of the opposition” but from a “minority which presents itself as a majority thanks to excessive media coverage, especially overseas. “. “Some ambassadors, unfortunately, only see this minority and only live with it, and ignore the majority of Algerians, misleading the countries to which they belong,” said Abdelmadjid Tebboune. He ensures for his part that there is a “craze for these legislative, especially among young people.”
If some predict the “end of the control of the duo FLN-RND [les partis au pouvoir] on the AFN ”, as questioned on June 9 the French-speaking daily El Watan, we must also expect the election of members of the legalist Islamist movement which decided to take part in the ballot in order to “contribute to the desired change”.
Thus, Abderrazak Makri, the president of the Movement of the Society for Peace (MSP), close to the Muslim Brotherhood, said he was “ready to govern” in case of victory. Some analysts predict a relative majority for moderate Islamist parties in the new assembly. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune seems ready to come to terms with this movement: “This political Islam does not bother me because it is not above the laws of the Republic”, he confided to the Point while promising that Islamism “as an ideology, that which tried to impose itself at the beginning of the years 1990 in our country, will never exist again in Algeria”.
Arrests of opponents on the eve of the election
On the eve of these elections, Algiers was closed on Friday, June 11, the weekly marching day of the Hirak, the day after the arrest of figures of the protest movement. According to Saïd Salhi, vice-president of the League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), the security forces made seven arrests and police custody on the evening of June 10: five in Algiers, one in Sétif ( north-east) and one in Oran (north-west). “We do not know the reasons for these arrests,” Saïd Salhi told AFP.
Among those arrested in Algiers by agents of the Directorate of Internal Security (DSI) were the opponent Karim Tabbou, Ihsane El Kadi, director of a radio station close to Hirak, and the independent journalist Khaled Drareni.
Another arrested figure, journalist Khaled Drareni, was on June 11 at the Antar center, a barracks on the outskirts of Algiers known to be a place of interrogation by the security services. Sentenced to a heavy prison term after covering a demonstration by the Hirak (whom he openly supports) in March 2020 in Algiers, but released on bail last February, Khaled Drareni is awaiting a new trial. Director of the Casbah Tribune news site and correspondent in Algeria for the French-speaking channel TV5 Monde and for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), he was sentenced to two years in prison for “inciting unarmed assembly” and “attacking the public. ‘national unity’.
The Official Journal also published on June 10 a presidential ordinance which amends the penal code by redefining terrorist acts and by establishing a national list of “terrorist persons and entities”, which could, according to the detractors of power, be used to imprison people. many opponents, activists or journalists.
At least 222 people are currently imprisoned for acts related to Hirak and / or individual freedoms, according to the National Committee for the Release of Prisoners (CNLD).