ALGIERS (Reuters) – Five candidates will run in Algeria’s presidential election next month, including two former prime ministers, the head of the election authority said on Saturday, amid mass protests rejecting the vote.
The authorities have repeatedly said the Dec. 12 vote would be the only way to get out of a crisis Algeria been facing since the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April under pressure from protesters.
Candidates for the Dec. 12 election include former prime ministers Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Ali Benflis, former culture minister Azzedddine Mihoubi, former tourism minister Abdelkader Bengrine, and Abdelaziz Belaid, head of the El Mostakbal Movement party.
They were announced by Mohamed Chorfi, head of the election authority.
Twenty-three candidates had applied to the election authority, but most failed to meet requirements which include collecting signatures from 25 of the country’s 48 provinces. Those who were rejected will be allowed to file appeals.
Tens of thousands of protesters have been staging weekly demonstrations to reject the election, saying it will not be fair as some of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s allies are still in power.
Bouteflika ended his 20-year-rule in April after mass protests broke out on Feb. 22 demanding the removal of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people involved in corruption.
The army is now the main player in Algeria’s politics, and its chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah has vowed transparency and fairness for the Dec. 12 vote.
The authorities also met some protesters’ demands by detaining several former officials including two ex-prime ministers and several prominent businessmen over corruption charges.
Protesters now also demand the departure of the remaining symbols of the old guard including interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.
Algeria had cancelled a presidential vote previously planned for July 4, citing a lack of candidates.
“There will be full transparency in the handling of the presidential election,” Chorfi said.
(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Peter Graff)