Ex-PM Tebboune wins race to succeed deposed Bouteflika

TEHRAN, Dec. 14 (MNA) – After two decades of Abdelaziz Bouteflika rule, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, a former prime minister, has been elected Algeria’s new president, after a crucial vote the authorities hope will serve as a way-out to the political deadlock the Algerian nation has been going through since the outbreak of the fierce pro-democracy popular protests in February, toppling his long-time predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Tebboune, 74, was elected with 58.15% of the vote in the oil-rich North African nation, ahead of his closest rival, former tourism minister and the head of Elbinaa Islamist party, Abdelkader Bengrine, who claimed 17.38% of the vote, followed by former premier and president of Talaie El Houriyet party Ali Benflis with 10.55 percent, and former culture minister and interim Secretary General of the National Democratic Rally party (RND),  Azzeddine Mihoubi with 7.26 percent, while president of Al-Moustakbel Front party Abdelaziz Belaid came fifth with 6.66 percent, according to the preliminary results announced by the head of the National Independent Electoral Authority, Mohamed Charfi, on Friday. 

According to the body’s Chairman, Tebboune snatched victory without the need for a second-round runoff, to become the 8th president of the North African nation since gaining independence from France in 1962. In this vein, the Constitutional Council will announce the final results of the presidential election during the period between 16 and 25 December.

Tebboune served briefly as prime minister in 2017 under former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, before being dismissed few months later.  He previously served as Minister of Housing from 2001 to 2002 and again from 2012 to 2017.

The voter turnout at the closing of the polling stations reached 41.13 %, announced the election body’s Chief. This turnout is lower compares to the nearly 52% turnout in 2014, which approved Bouteflika’s final mandate.

“The turnout is satisfying and it will give the new president enough backing to implement his reforms,” said Ahmed Mizab, a commentator on state television.

The number of voters, thus, reached 9,692,077 out of more than 24 million electors, including 914,308 registered at the diplomatic and consular centers abroad.

The election was marred by attacks on polling stations in some regions. The opponents had gathered especially in Kabylie, storming the polling stations to prevent elections’ supporters from casting their votes. They demanded the total dismantling of the system before the organization of any ballot, slamming this election as a charade to keep the ruling elite in power. A video had been circulating on social media, showing ballot boxes being seized and ballots scattered on the ground. However, state media, on the other hand, cast the participation as a high enough turnout to vindicate the decision to hold the poll in spite of the boycott.

The Algerian authorities have created an inclusive body in an attempt at transparency in a nation where leaders were thought to be chosen in advance. 

Algerians hope that this vote will chart a new era for the country where the highest office has stood vacant for eight months. The Speaker of the Council of the Nation, Abdelkader Bensalah was named an interim leader to replace former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned under pressure from a pro-democracy protest movement that won the army's backing. The polls were originally planned for July 4. However, they were postponed due to a lack of viable candidates.

Tebboune, for his part, promised, during the electoral campaign, to address the problems of development, create economic wealth and curb unemployment. For him,  “the first step in the change lies in amending the current Constitution, which proved its ineffectiveness and being inappropriate for the current stage,” urging the adoption of a new Constitution which would “really separate the prerogatives of State institutions and reinforce control to end eras of single decision-making circle power.”

A previous poll set for July was scrapped for lack of viable candidates and interim president Abdelkader Bensalah's term has been extended.

MNA/TT

News Code 153348

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