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Algeria’s Tebboune sets ‘early’ presidential elections for September 7

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Algeria will hold early presidential elections in September, three months ahead of schedule, a statement from the president’s office said, without providing further details.

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“It was decided to hold early presidential elections on September 7, 2024,” read the statement released following a meeting chaired by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and attended by lawmakers and the army’s chief of staff.

Tebboune, who turns 79 in November, was elected in December 2019, after pro-democracy protests that broke out in February that year forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down.

The current president, whose five-year term in office was due to expire in December, had won 58 percent of the vote in 2019.

Tebboune has not said if he will seek a second term in office and there was no immediate explanation on why an early presidential election has been called.

He was a former premier under Bouteflika, who died in September 2021.

After Bouteflika stepped down, the demonstrations led by the Hirak protest movement continued in a push for deep reforms in hydrocarbon-rich Algeria.

But the movement waned when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Tebboune’s government later banned demonstrations by the Hirak movements and stepped up legal proceedings against opponents, activists, journalists and academics.

In February, rights watchdog Amnesty International said that five years after the pro-democracy protests erupted, Algerian authorities were still clamping down on the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

In a report based on testimonies of detainees, families and lawyers, Amnesty said Algerian authorities had “escalated their repression of peaceful dissent” since the movement ended in early 2020 due to the Covid pandemic and a ban on protests.

“It is a tragedy that five years after brave Algerians took to the streets in their masses to demand political change and reforms, the authorities have continued to wage a chilling campaign of repression,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.

The London-based rights group said hundreds of people had been arbitrarily arrested and detained and that dozens of peaceful protesters, journalists and activists still languished behind bars.

It called for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained. 

Algeria ranks 136 out of 180 countries and territories in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

(AFP) 

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