Algeria: 23 candidates qualify for presidential poll

Election set to take place eight months after former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned following mass protests.

    Protesters demand sweeping reforms in the oil-rich country before any vote takes place [Ramzi Boudina/Reuters]
    Protesters demand sweeping reforms in the oil-rich country before any vote takes place [Ramzi Boudina/Reuters]

    Algeria's electoral authority has said 23 candidates have qualified for the North African country's controversial presidential vote on December 12.

    The election will take place eight months after former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in the spring following months of mass protests. Since then, power in Algeria has been concentrated around Army Chief Ahmed Gaid Salah.

    Candidates must have backing of at least 50,000 people and submissions end at midnight on Saturday.

    The approved candidates include former ministers or political party leaders, such as former Prime Minister Ali Benflis, and many of them participated in previous presidential elections. A former popular television host Slimane Bakhlili also qualified.

    Activists on social media have called for protesters to reject the vote, fearing that it will not be transparent or fair.

    Demand for reforms

    On Friday, Algerians flooded the streets of the capital to demand the overhaul of the political establishment and reject army-backed calls for presidential polls in December.

    Protesters are demanding sweeping reforms in the oil-rich country before any vote takes place, and say Bouteflika-era figures still in power must not use the presidential poll as an opportunity to appoint his successor.

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    The Hirak protest movement was formed in February to demand that Bouteflika resign instead of running for a fifth term. 

    It has called for transitional institutions to replace Algeria's entire system of government, in place since independence from France in 1962.

    Authorities have rejected these demands, but protests continue. 

    Initially polls had been planned for July 4 but they were postponed due to a lack of viable candidates, plunging the country into a constitutional crisis, since Bensalah's mandate expired that month.

    SOURCE: News agencies