Algerian protesters demand Thursday’s election be canceled

A demonstrator holds a sign reading "No vote", during a protest rejecting the presidential election in Algiers, Algeria December 11, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 December 2019

Algerian protesters demand Thursday’s election be canceled

  • Shadowy leaders seek to outflank protest movement
  • Protesters see vote as a charade to keep status quo

ALGIERS: A big crowd of protesters marched through central Algiers on Wednesday to demand Thursday’s presidential election be canceled, chanting that they would not vote in a poll they regard as a charade.
They chanted “No election tomorrow” and held up banners reading “You have destroyed the country” as riot police stood blocking roads and a helicopter circled overhead. In one place, a column of police barged through the crowd.
The election is shaping up to be a pivotal moment in the months-long struggle between the shadowy network of military, security and political leaders known as the “pouvoir,” who have ruled for decades, and a leaderless street protest movement.
While the military, the dominant force in the pouvoir — “the power” — has cast the election as the only way to end the stalemate on the streets, the protesters reject it as a sham designed to maintain the status quo.
They say no election can be free or fair while the old guard of rulers remain in power and the military stays involved in politics. No foreign observers are in Algeria to monitor the vote.
Whoever is elected after Thursday’s first round and a potential run-off later this month will face a series of hard decisions, with declining energy revenue leading to a planned 9% cut in public spending next year.

DEADLOCK
The deadlock between the enormous protest movement and a state increasingly dominated by the military has put at stake the political future of Africa’s largest country, a nation of 40 million people and a major gas supplier to Europe.
All five of the state-approved candidates running on Thursday are former senior officials linked to the former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika whom the army forced aside in April in response to the protests.
“Algerians want radical change. They are fed up,” said student Ahmed Kamili, 25, wrapped in the national flag.
In the Kabylie region, the fiercest arena of the 1990s civil war between the state and Islamist insurgents, almost all businesses and government offices are closed in a general strike in support of the protesters and against the election.
“The baker and pharmacy are the only open shops in the village,” said Mezouane Azouz, a resident of Haizer in the Kabylie region.
Army chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Gaed Salah, who has emerged as Algeria’s most powerful political player since Bouteflika was ousted, has pushed for Thursday’s vote as the only way to resolve the political crisis.


LIVE: Davos 2020 Day One - Thunberg slams elites, Trump hails US economic rebound

Updated 32 min 24 sec ago

LIVE: Davos 2020 Day One - Thunberg slams elites, Trump hails US economic rebound

  • Discussion panels featuring a number of high profile figures from the political, business and civil world.
  • Environment and climate issues on agenda, but Iran and Lebanon expected to feature heavily

The World Economic Forum 2020 started on Tuesday in Davos in Switzerland. Greta Thunberg kicked off the three day forum in a panel discussion on Sustainable Path towards a Common Future.

There will be discussion panels featuring a number of high profile figures from the political, business and civil world.

They will discuss a wide range of subjects including the environment and climate issues, but Iran and Lebanon are expected to feature heavily.

Follow Arab News’ coverage below

13:45 - Bollywood superstar and mental health ambassador Deepika Padukone has a very honest and inspiring conversation with World Health Organization's director-general about her own experiences with mental illness and how the stigma surrounding it can be ended...

In 2017, Padukone spoke vividly about her struggle with depression and the stigma that surrounded it. She also described how she decided to speak out, so others wouldn't have to suffer in the same way she did. Watch the Crystal Awardee speaking earlier at Davos:

13:00 - Saudi Arabia's Minister for Communications and IT Abdullah Al-Swaha has been speaking on a panel about the strategic outlook for Middle East economies. He makes the salient point that if countries want their economies to grow, they must focus on youth, technology and the empowerment of women...

11:30 - US President Donald Trump reverted to his role as salesman Tuesday, telling a gathering of the world's top businessmen in the Swiss Alps that he's led a “spectacular” turnaround of the US economy and encouraged them to invest in America.

He reminded the audience that when he spoke here two years ago, early in his presidency, “I told you that we had launched the great American comeback."

“Today I’m proud to declare the United States is in the midst of an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” the president said.

11:00 - Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson delivered a special message from Pope Francis. He called on everyone to remember that we are all members of one human family, and that we have a moral obligation to care for one another.

And he asked for a renewed ethical approach in the forthcoming discussions, including in the discipline of economics.

10:30 - The historian Yuval Noah Harari struck a pessimistic note at the opening of this session on the technology arms race. 

"On the most shallow level it could be a repeat of the 19thcentury industrial revolution, when the leaders had the chance to dominate the world economically and politically... I understand the current arms race as an imperial arms race... You don't need to send the soldiers in if you have all the data on a country," says Harari.

10:00 - In one of the first sessions of the WEF, Greta Thunberg said the voices of science and youth need to be at the center of the conversations on environment and future during “Forging a Sustainable Path towards a Common Future” panel discussion. 

Read more on her speech hereThunberg condemns climate inaction as Trump joins Davos