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.


Militant group says cease-fire reached to fighting in Gaza

Updated 34 min 55 sec ago

Militant group says cease-fire reached to fighting in Gaza

  • Spokesman Musab Al-Berim says the Egyptian-brokered deal went into effect at 5:30 a.m. Thursday
  • The fighting broke out early Tuesday after Israel killed a senior commander of the militant group

GAZA: A militant group says a cease-fire has been reached to end two days of heavy fighting with Israel.

Spokesman Musab Al-Berim says the Egyptian-brokered deal went into effect at 5:30 a.m. (0330 GMT) Thursday.

He says the cease-fire was based on a list of demands presented by his group late Wednesday, including a halt to Israeli targeted killings of the group’s leaders.

Israel will follow suit if Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip stop cross-border attacks, an Israeli official said on Thursday, denying that Israel had changed open-fire policy as demanded by the militant group for a truce.

“Quiet will be answered with quiet,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Army Radio. “The State of Israel will not hesitate to strike at those who try to harm it, from the Gaza Strip or from anywhere else.”

The fighting broke out early Tuesday after Israel killed a senior commander of the militant group.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.