Algeria cancels July 4 presidential vote, rejects candidates

Demonstrations are still going on in Algeria against the elite who have been ruling the country since their independence from France. (File/AFP)
Updated 02 June 2019
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Algeria cancels July 4 presidential vote, rejects candidates

  • The constitutional council said it only received two candidates, who were seen as invalid
  • The vote was supposed to elect a new president after Bouteflika’s 20-year rule ended

ALGIERS: Algeria’s Constitutional Council on Sunday canceled the July 4 presidential election in this energy-rich North African country, plunged for months in a political crisis, after the two candidates — both unknowns — were rejected.
The council said in a statement that it is now up to the interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah, to set a new date for the vote.
Only two candidates turned in their files by the May 25 deadline, but the Constitutional Council rejected them. It did not say why.
A presidential election was ordered after ailing long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down on April 2 under pressure from the public and the powerful army chief, ending two decades of rule.
Citizens have held pro-democracy protests each Friday since Feb. 22 to press for a new era with new leadership that has no links to Bouteflika, who was rarely seen in public since a 2013 stroke.
The protests were triggered by Bouteflika’s plan to seek a fifth term.
Protesters want other top officials, including the interim president — an ally of Bouteflika — to leave office to ensure a new era for Algeria, which has been run since independence from France in 1962 by a generation that fought in the seven-year-long war.
Bensalah was named interim leader for a 90-day period, in keeping with the constitution. The Constitutional Council’s decision to cancel the July 4 voting and ask him to organize a new election suggests that he will remain in office beyond that limit, which will end in the second week of July. The council statement said that organizing elections was the interim leader’s “essential mission.”
The cancelation of the elections, decried by protesters, carried little surprise. Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah appeared to acknowledge that the date was no longer firm, in an address last week to soldiers in which he called for dialogue — but rejected a transitional period demanded by numerous party leaders and by protesters, out of fear it could lead to chaos and a dangerous vacuum.
He said elections should be held “in the shortest delay possible.”
Judicial authorities, meanwhile, have gone after Bouteflika’s entourage, with a military court investigating his brother Said Bouteflika and two former generals once in charge of intelligence for “plotting against the authority of the state.” Said Bouteflika was widely viewed as the real power behind the ailing former president, and alleged by many to have contributed to raising corruption in an already corrupt system to new levels. Top business leaders also have been jailed.


Door will stay open to Palestinians despite Bahrain boycott, Kushner says

Updated 3 min 37 sec ago
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Door will stay open to Palestinians despite Bahrain boycott, Kushner says

  • Kushner said US President Donald Trump had delivered on his promises to everyone, and would deliver on his promise to Palestinians
  • Kushner says he has laid out a great framework in which Palestinians can engage 'if they want to make their people’s lives better'

MANAMA: The “Peace to Prosperity” conference in Bahrain was “a remarkable couple of days,” White House adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday as he was pressed by Israeli reporters demanding to know what consequences Palestinians would face for refusing to attend.
The conflict was a “solvable problem economically,” Kushner said. “The Palestinian people have been promised a lot of things over the years that have not come true, and I do want to show them that this is the plan, this is what could happen if there is a peace deal.”
Kushner said he planned to follow up with investors to secure the funding. “Once we have that, we will roll into the political plan but we will do it with a context of people having the opportunity to digest what is possible.” It was a “constant theme” during the conference “that this is actually very doable,” he said.
Kushner’s press secretary controlled who could ask questions. He said he would only allow four, and called Israeli journalists from i24 Israeli TV and The Times of Israel.  When the press secretary waved me away, I asked if he would take a question from the only Palestinian reporter present, writing for Arab News. Kushner said: “Yes.”
I asked if he was going to close the door or leave it open to the Palestinians as his vision for economic peace moved forward.
“If they actually want to make their people’s lives better, we have now laid out a great framework in which they can engage and try to achieve it,” Kushner replied.
“We have left the door open the whole time. One thing you have seen with me is I tend not to get emotional about transactions at the end of the day, I understand people have their domestic politics and people have different ways of reacting.

“I think what you have seen from us is that we have been very respectful, very straightforward. We have been very deliberate. We take actions, not weighing the
political consequences. We have been weighing what is right and wrong.”
Kushner said US President Donald Trump had delivered on his promises to everyone, and would deliver on his promise to Palestinians.
“President Trump has said he wants to help the Palestinians achieve a better future for themselves, and I hope they will take it very seriously that he has been trying to do that. Hopefully what you have seen in the last couple of days shows there has been a lot of effort on a very high level, a lot of resources devoted to it.
“We are going to keep moving forward and we will put out our political plan at the right time. I do think that one of the things from today is that it will be very hard for people to go back to looking at this through a traditional lens. I do think that hopefully we have helped people look at it a little bit differently, and that is one of our goals.”