Algeria election: former PM Abdelmadjid Tebboune pulls ahead in early results

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Early results in Algeria’s contentious presidential election indicate an outright win for former prime minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune in a vote fiercely opposed by the nine-month-old protest movement.

Local media reported an expected win for Mr Tebboune, who was seen as one of the favourites, with votes still being counted and confirmed results expected either on Friday night or early Saturday.

It had been reported previously that no majority seemed likely and therefore a second round of elections was expected be held between the two front runners.

A low turnout of around 40 per cent was in part because protesters called for a boycott of what they called a sham vote, and demanded a complete overhaul of the political system. They gathered at some polling stations and in the rebellious Amazigh – or Berber – region to the east of the capital a video purported to show ballot boxes being seized and ballots scattered on the ground.

Polling station workers empty a ballot box in a polling station in Algiers. Algerians — without a leader since April — voted for a new president or boycotted and held street protests against the elections decried by a massive pro-democracy movement that forced former leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign. AP

An election official holds a ballot paper showing presidential candidate Azzedine Mihoubi during vote counting at a polling station in Algiers, Algeria. EPA

Algerians chant slogans during a protest rally in Algiers, Algeria. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the capital Algiers calling for a mass boycott of the country's presidential elections, which is taking place on the day, and to voice against the five candidates running to replace ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika for being closely linked to the former regime. EPA

Algerians chant slogans during a protest rally in Algiers, Algeria. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the capital Algiers calling for a mass boycott of the country's presidential elections, which is taking place on the day, and to voice against the five candidates running to replace ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika for being closely linked to the former regime. EPA

Algerians chant slogans during a protest rally in Algiers, Algeria. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the capital Algiers calling for a mass boycott of the country's presidential elections, which is taking place on the day, and to voice against the five candidates running to replace ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika for being closely linked to the former regime. EPA

Algerians chant slogans during a protest rally in Algiers, Algeria. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the capital Algiers calling for a mass boycott of the country's presidential elections, which is taking place on the day, and to voice against the five candidates running to replace ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika for being closely linked to the former regime. EPA

Riot police officers gather in Algiers after the presidential elections. Algerians — without a leader since April — voted for a new president or boycotted and held street protests against the elections decried by a massive pro-democracy movement that forced former leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign. AP

Algerian security forces rush towards demonstrators during an anti-government demonstration on, in the capital Algiers on the day of the presidential election. About 10,000 protesters rallied in Algeria's capital against presidential elections they believe aim to perpetuate the regime of deposed leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika, AFP reporters witnessed. AFP

This AFPTV screen grab from a video shows Algerian security forces detaining protesters during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on the day of the presidential election. About 10,000 protesters rallied in Algeria's capital against presidential elections they believe aim to perpetuate the regime of deposed leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika, AFP reporters witnessed. The crowd outnumbered police who had intervened with force and made several arrests in a bid to prevent a mass demonstration of the almost 10-month old "Hirak" protest movement. AFP

Riot police are deployed during a protest to reject the presidential election in Algiers, Algeria. Reuters

The protesters say the election will only keep the ruling elite in power, that they are not transparent or fair. The government have been accused of tampering with results in previous elections and there are no international election monitors.

The five candidates, who all served under or supported ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, are not considered to represent the opposition Hirak movement – named after the Arabic for mobilisation – or pose a threat to the ruling elite.

Hirak supporters refer to the candidates as “the gang” and their grip on power as “le pouvoir”, seeing them as a civilian facade for military rule.

The conviction of two former prime ministers on corruption charges earlier this week was seen as an attempt to show the public that the government was willing and able to reform.

De facto ruler Lt Gen Ahmed Gaed Salah, who triggered the legislature move to force the 82-year-old Mr Bouteflika to step down due to ill health, pushed for the vote as the only way to end the crisis, but protests have stepped up in recent days.

The arrest of protest leader Kaddour Chouicha on Tuesday shows the regime is nervous about the protests. He was sentenced to one year in prison on the same day on the grounds of threatening public security and insulting a public institution.

A number of artists, journalists and activists have also been arrested.

The election winner will be caught between the military and an unhappy population.

Algeria is the largest country in Africa and is a giant of gas and oil. It gained independence from France in 1962.

Updated: December 13, 2019 03:16 PM

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