EFEAlgiers

Polling stations in Algeria opened their doors Saturday for people to cast their votes in parliamentary elections amid heavy security measures.

The vote has been portrayed by the government as the final step of a transition that began when Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned as a president in April 2019 in the wake of massive protests.

The opposition and the Hirak movement, which led the anti-government protests a couple of years ago, consider it a farce.

A total of 24,425,187 eligible voters, including 902,865 abroad, are invited to vote at 61,543 polling centers, overseen by 589,000 agents, to elect 407 legislators from some 1,500 lists, including 800 independent.

Thousands of security forces and secret services agents have been deployed on the streets, especially in the capital Algiers, where the streets were quiet on Saturday morning, a similar scene to the presidential election in 2019.

Back then, the opposition and the Hirak movement called for a boycott that led to a low turnout of 40 percent.

Experts expect a similar scenario for this year’s elections despite intense anti-Hirak campaigns and a crackdown on the opposition over the past few weeks.

Thanks to incentives from the government which was to instill a sense of renewal, over 13,000 candidates are under 40, including around 5,700 women, according to Algeria’s Independent National Electoral Authority.

The Hirak has been calling for an end to the military regime that has ruled the country since gaining its independence from France in 1962.

The National Liberation Front, which has been in power since 2002, and which was the country's only political party from independence in 1962 until 1989, emerged victorious in the 2017 parliamentary elections. EFE

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