Thousands of people protested in Algiers and other Algerian cities on Thursday, December 12, denouncing Thursday's presidential election a sham process aimed at keeping members of the political elite in power following the April resignation of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Four of the five candidates claimed either victory in the election or that they would advance to a second-round runoff election; all candidates running in the election are former senior officials from the Bouteflika regime. Turnout remained low as authorities claimed 33 percent of registered voters had cast a ballot two hours before polls closed.
Notably, police sought to disperse protesters in Algiers, whose numbers overwhelmed the officers and forced them to retreat. Related demonstrations were held in Oran, Constantine, Béjaïa, and Haizer, among other areas. Polling stations remained closed in parts of the Kabylie region.
Further political protests are to be expected through the announcement of election results. Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and business are to be anticipated in areas affected by protest activity.
Five candidates are running in the presidential election: Abdelmajid Tebboune, Ali Benflis, Azzeddine Mihoubi, Abdelkader Bengrina, and Abdelaziz Belaid, all of which have served in high-level government roles. Part of the population has vowed to boycott the election, as they oppose the list of candidates due to their links to the former regime. Independent candidates were not allowed to run by the interim military government. Political tensions have produced continuing nationwide protests, and some outlets have stated that the government has taken a heavy-handed stance in repressing the demonstrations.
Algeria is operating under an interim government, installed since former President Abdul-Aziz Bouteflika left office in April. On September 15, Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah announced that presidential elections would be held on December 12, following months of political tensions in Algeria sparked by former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's intention to run for a fifth term. An interim government was approved on March 31, though protesters have continued to hold demonstrations. Presidential elections previously set for July 4 were called off by the Algerian Constitutional Council after the only two candidates were rejected.
Individuals in Algiers and across Algeria are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and anticipate a heightened security presence and localized disruptions to business and transportation around protest sites.