There is tight security in Algeria as voters go to the polls to choose a new parliament. The ballot comes a day after a bomb attack in the town of Constantine killed a police officer and wounded two others. The polls are being boycotted by the majority of opposition parties, some of whom have criticised the process as undemocratic. Influential ex-militant Madhani Mezrag says that is a serious mistake.
“A boycott will only open the door for extremists, who want to sideline people so they can do whatever they want. Its a negative move and will harm Muslims along with all national factions,” he said.
Turnout is not expected to be high. Executive power in Algeria rests mainly with the president and many see the parliament as ineffective. But there is another issue. Last month, islamist suicide bombers killed 30 and injured scores more by detonating bombs outside government buildings in the capital, Algiers.
The attacks jolted awake memories of the decade of civil war in which more than 150,000 died. Observers say today’s vote is also a test of how far Algeria has come in its attempts to rebuild itself.