Algeria prepared, calls voters to election
By Lyes Aflou for Magharebia in Algiers – 09/05/12
On the eve of Algeria's legislative elections, efforts to galvanise voter interest continue thick and fast.
The latest call came from President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Speaking in Setif to mark the May 8th 1945 massacre, he said that with tomorrow's legislative elections, the country "is going through a decisive stage in its history". He said he hoped to see the election of an assembly "that represents the political trends which exist in society".
"I call on the public to turn out in force to vote," the president said.
The authorities said that they have taken appropriate steps to guarantee a smooth election. Schools operating as polling stations have been closed since Tuesday and the pupils have been given an extra holiday.
The interior ministry announced on Tuesday that it had introduced measures to curtail lorry traffic and to postpone the organisation of sporting and cultural events as well as weekly markets between May 9th-11th in order to ensure the "smooth running" of the legislative elections.
As far as security is concerned, 120,000 officers from the police, gendarmerie and fire service have been deployed to cover the electoral campaign. Reinforcements have been called up from the communal guards as well. No major incidents have been recorded since Tuesday.
In terms of international media coverage, the communications ministry said on Tuesday that 230 foreign journalists were approved to cover the election, with 36 representing print media and 197 working in audio-visual media. Authorities said that the number is likely to increase.
Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia has predicted that it will be difficult for any one party to win a majority across the 462 seats available. More than 25,000 candidates from 44 political parties and 183 lists are competing for a slot in Parliament.
"The number of lists of parties and independents standing for election leads one to expect a fragmentation of the vote, with an absolute majority of 232 seats looking hard to get," he told the daily newspaper l'Expression. However, he went on to say that "great diversity in the assembly could be real asset, emphasising the plurality of the democratic system".
Addressing statements from the European Union observer mission that stated it would not hand a "blank cheque" to the Algerian authorities, the interior minister said that the mission would not be expected to do such a thing.
"That is not their role; everyone has their own job to do. The role of the observers was established by the memorandum which they signed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which empowers them to observe the elections and the extent to which all players in the process remain strictly neutral," Ould Kablia said.
More than 500 foreign observers from the EU, the UN, the Arab League, the African Union and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, along with non-governmental organisations, will monitor voting.
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