Polling stations in Béjaïa (Kabylie region) and other provinces have been closed due to vandalism and overall opposition to the presidential election on Thursday, December 12. Strong Berber opposition is expected in the nationwide election, which may produce further disruption to voting and transportation in the vicinity of polling sites.
Protests in central Algiers have also been reported and will likely seek to disrupt the public from voting, as well as accessing stations. Related protests should be expected to continue through Thursday, potentially into Friday, December 13, and up until the election results are announced.
Heightened security measures and business disruptions are to be expected throughout the day on Thursday, as well as spontaneous protests and the possibility of violent clashes.
Five candidates are running in the presidential election: Abdelmajid Tebboune, Ali Benflis, Azzeddine Mihoubi, Abdelkader Bengrina, and Abdelaziz Belaid, most of which have served in high level ministerial roles in previous governments. Part of the population has vowed to boycott the election, as they oppose the list of candidates due to their links to the former regime. Independent candidates were not allowed to run by the interim military government. This tension has produced continued nationwide protests, and some outlets have stated that the government has repressed the protests with heavy hands.
Algeria is operating under an interim government, installed since former President Abdul-Aziz Bouteflika left office in April. On September 15, Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah announced that presidential elections would be held on December 12, following months of political tensions in Algeria sparked by former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's intention to run for a fifth term. An interim government was approved on March 31, though protesters have continued to hold demonstrations. Presidential elections previously set for July 4 were called off by the Algerian Constitutional Council after the only two candidates were rejected.
Individuals in Algiers and across Algeria are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and anticipate a heightened security presence and localized disruptions to business and transportation around protest sites.
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