Algerians Protest Presidential Vote, Boycott Polling Stations
Hundreds of people gathered in the streets of Algiers on Thursday morning, calling on Algerian citizens to boycott the day’s highly unpopular presidential election. Initial reports said that some polling stations in the country had failed to open their doors by the 7 a.m. starting time. Police were out in force as numerous citizens bucked popular sentiment and showed up to cast their ballot. Many Algerians, seeking a major political overhaul, believe the election will do nothing to achieve this, with all five candidates having at one time or another been considered close allies of ousted strongman Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Others fear that change that comes too quickly could be a recipe for disaster, pointing to other countries in the region that underwent a so-called Arab Spring only to leave citizens further disgruntled. The military, which has had a major, behind-the-scenes hand in running the country since independence from France in 1962, did not invite foreign observers, further fueling the suspicions of citizens.