Election called as army chief is increasingly criticised


The acting head of state, Abdelkader Bensalah, summoned on Sunday the electorate for the presidential election, set for December 12, 2019. This follows the suggestion by the army’s chief, Ahmed Gaid Salah, to summon the electorate on the 15th of September. An election considered by Algerians as an attempt by the military elite to force through and appoint a puppet president.

In a speech to the nation, Bensalah said he set the date of the presidential election to Thursday, December 12, 2019 and within the framework of its constitutional prerogatives, adding that he proceeded, this Sunday, the signing of the presidential decree on convocation the electoral body.

On this occasion, he urged citizens “to mobilize to make this meeting the starting point of the process of renewal of our Nation, and to work, massively and strongly, to the success of this election, which will allow our people to elect a new President who will have all the legitimacy to preside over the destinies of our country and to realize the aspirations of our people “.

Bensalah also said the organization of the presidential election is “the only viable democratic solution”, while reiterating his commitment to bring “all the right conditions for the organization of a presidential election. with all the guarantees of transparency, regularity and probity”.

Public enemy No. 1

Millions demonstrated again for the 30th consecutive Friday across the whole country to oppose the election which they see as being organised by a corrupt military elite and designed to appoint a puppet president. The demonstrators also called for Ahmed Gaid Salah to be removed from power, a power he inherited when he forced Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign.

“Atalgou wladna ediw wlad el Gaid” (free our children and take el Gaid’s children) chanted many demonstrators on Friday. Others chanted “Liberez les otages” (free the hostages), a reference to the hundreds of political prisoners held in custody on questionable charges in what many see as a campaign of intimidation against anyone who opposes the election or the army’s chief. Other demonstrators accused Ahmed Gaid Salah of being an “Emirati agent”, a reference to the opaque relationship he entertains with the Emirati royal family.

Questioned by the Algiers Herald in the streets of Algiers, Mourad S. told us “We trusted Ahmed Gaid Salah but he turned out worse than Abdelaziz Bouteflika, we reject their election which is bound to be plagued with fraud, just like every election since 1962, they must accept that the people will not allow it.”.

Salim D. went further and told our correspondent “this is a mafia with an administration and and army, they keep kidnapping opponents, when will the world say something?”. In contrast, another pedestrian we questioned, Mohamed T. expressed his frustration at France who he accused of having “left their men in charge, Algeria was never really independent, everyone knows we are still colonised”.

Last week, a popular political opponent was “kidnapped” and charged with “hindering the troops’ morale”, a charge widely ridiculed on social media. Algerians question whether the army can be relied upon to defend the country if insignificant statements made by political opponents could weaken its morale.

Yesterday, Sunday 15th, 22 demonstrators were jailed for participating in Friday’s demonstrations. Some analysts see in this an attempt to create a climate of fear, after all else failed at hindering the strength of the pro-democracy protests.

The climate of fear resembles the early 90’s practices used by the military to intimidate the population. At the time, forced disappearances, torture and political assassinations were commonplace.

Article last updated on 16/09/2019 at 20:38.