Algerian opposition parties boycott Parliament
By Fidet Mansour for Magharebia in Algiers – 23/05/12
At least 14 Algerian political parties plan to boycott Parliament to protest the outcome of the legislative election.
Describing themselves as victims of "massive fraud", the 14 opposition parties have joined forces to pressure the government to declare the recent legislative elections void. The parties met on Monday (May 21st) in Algiers to announce the creation of the "Front for the Protection of Democracy".
After several marathon meetings, they took their appeal to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who they said bears the "full responsibility for the massive fraud which marked the ballot on May 10th".
According the declaration, as an act of defiance against the government, the 14 parties decided to set up a "parallel parliament", which is expected to hold its first "session" on May 26th. The statement did not reveal, however, how they planned to do it. They are also calling for a "national consensual body", whose mission will be to prepare the new constitution, as well as for the appointment of a "government of national unity" to oversee the transition period.
The Front for the Protection of Democracy formally announced its members' divorce from the government and then went on to accuse authorities of involving state institutions in the consolidation of their single vision of the country's political management.
"Bouteflika did not follow through on his commitments," Justice and Development Front (FJD) chair Abdallah Djaballah told reporters at the end of the meeting where the group also released a formal declaration outlining their demands.
Djaballah criticised the European Union observers who came to Algeria to monitor the legislative elections by saying that "Algeria bought Europe's silence in return for preferential gas deals" – a reference to the energy agreement due to be signed by the two sides over the coming weeks.
In addition, the 14 parties decided to boycott the work of Parliament by withholding their MPs.
"It was difficult for party leaders to persuade their elected members to give up their seats," senior FJD member Lakhdar Benkhelaf told Magharebia. The alternative would have been to keep people in their posts but boycott the plenary sessions, he explained.
Three parties, however, abandoned the boycott initiative to keep their parliamentary seats. The Labour Party (PT) won 17 seats in the election, the Front of Socialist Forces (FFS) took 21 and the Green Alliance won 47.
In spite of the defection, Abdelmadjid Menasra, who chairs the Front for Change (FC) and also attended the meeting, said that he would leave the Front's door open to "all those fighting for change in the country".
Menasra said that he would not lose faith and that he was convinced that "the initiative will have the backing of all those parties who see themselves as the opposition."
Some, however, expressed doubt that they will be successful their endeavour.
"The opposition's position has been weakened by the absence of the main parties who carry weight on the political scene," political analyst Sabri Moussa said. "Without the PT, FFS and Green Alliance, the initiative risks failure."
As far as the president to declaring the election void, Moussa indicated that Bouteflika will most likely remain "unsympathetic".
On the streets of Algeria, opinion is divided between those who have refused to accept the result as a done deal and those who see the initiative as dead on its feet.
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