Algeria holds presidential vote fiercely opposed by protesters

ALGIERS (AFP) – After almost 10 months of political turmoil, Algeria yesterday held a presidential vote bitterly opposed by a protest movement that sees it as a regime ploy to cling on to power.

All 61,000 polling stations around the North African country opened as planned at 8am (0700 GMT), the official APS news agency reported.

Five candidates are in the running, all of them widely rejected as “children of the regime” of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whom people power ousted in April after two decades in office.

Turnout was expected to be extremely low after demonstrators shouting “no vote” again pressed their demand for a boycott on the eve of the polls, facing off with truncheon-wielding riot police in Algiers.

“How can we trust those who betrayed the country and helped Bouteflika?” read one placard at the rally, which saw scores arrested and many wounded in clashes with security forces.

Polls were scheduled to close at 1800 GMT but the result may not be announced until today, as it was after previous elections already marked by high abstention rates.

A voter displays their papers before casting a vote inside the polling station in Algiers, Algeria. PHOTO: AP