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

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.


Stena Impero owner met Iran’s Zarif to urge release of UK-flagged ship

Updated 26 min 39 sec ago

Stena Impero owner met Iran’s Zarif to urge release of UK-flagged ship

  • Tanker was detained by Tehran on July 19
  • Erik Hanell, chief executive of Stena Bulk, met Zarif in Stockholm

LONDON: The owner of a British-flagged tanker detained in Iran has met the country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to make the case for the ship and its crew to be released.

Erik Hanell, chief executive of Stena Bulk, met Zarif in Stockholm on Aug. 20 to ask for the Stena Impero to be released.

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READ MORE: Iran threatens ‘less secure’ shipping lanes if US halts oil exports

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It was detained by Tehran on July 19, two weeks after Britain detained an Iranian tanker off the territory of Gibraltar. That ship was released this week.

“A constructive dialogue was had and we shared information around the case,” Hanell said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It was important for us to emphasize the importance of the release of the 23 crew ... Also for the release of the Swedish owned vessel Stena Impero.