Election watcher cites fraudulent Algeria parliamentary vote
Workers at a polling station empty ballots to begin the counting process, in the Bab el-Oued neighborhood, Algiers, Thursday, May 10, 2012. (AP / Paul Schemm)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, June 2, 2012 4:34PM EDT
ALGIERS, Algeria - Algeria's legislative elections last month were fraudulent and the final results have no legitimacy, said a long-awaited report by a multiparty election monitoring panel released Saturday.
The National Commission for the Surveillance of Legislative Elections cast doubt on the May 10 parliamentary contests that were marked by low turnout, a dominating victory for two pro-government parties and a relatively poor showing by Islamist parties.
The results at the time were described as Algeria's bucking of the trend in the Middle East of Islamist parties doing well in elections during the Arab Spring uprisings.
"The electoral process was marred by multiple violations and excesses," said Mohamed Seddiki, chairman of the commission in a press conference. "These elections are completely unlawful."
Seddiki accused the government of pressuring police officers, troops and other security forces into voting for two parties allied to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He said authorities also thwarted monitoring efforts by the panel.
The two pro-government parties together took 273 seats in the 462 person parliament, greatly expanding their presence and taking a comfortable majority. Islamist parties actually lost seats.
Opposition parties have also condemned the election as fraudulent.
The 44-member commission was composed of representatives from several of the country's more than 40 political parties and but only 35 of those signed the report. Those from the pro-government parties refused.
The commission is a consultative body and has no power to cancel the elections.
Seddiki also complained that the government was hostile to its mission, and did not give it sufficient means to observe the elections.
A European Union observer mission reported that the elections took place in an atmosphere of calm efficiency, but did not describe them as free and fair.
Oil and gas-rich Algeria was largely spared the unrest that swept Middle East and North Africa in 2011, with a few protests quickly crushed by police. The government has raised wages and spent heavily to keep the population satisfied.
Algeria was also wracked by a decade of civil war in the 1990s between security forces and Islamist militants that left 200,000 dead and left people craving stability.