Saturday, April 10, 2004

Algeria: Bouteflika re-elected

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been re-elected with 83% of the vote.

Ali Benflis placed a distant second, garnering 8% of the vote. He is alleging fraud.

The private papers in Algeria are not buying the victory either.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe was one of the organizations that sent observers ... and this is what one had to say about the vote.
"It was pretty clear this is what the people wanted. With our limited presence on the ground we did not see any fraud," said Bruce George, a co-ordinator for the OSCE.

"It was not a perfect election, but by the standards of the region it was excellent and the gulf between European elections and what I saw yesterday has narrowed considerably."
Now the AFP story of the victory brings up the following quote ...
Pasqualina Neapoletano, who headed a five-member observer team from the European Parliament, told reporters here on Tuesday: "We are attuned to the risk of fraud. We are very aware and cautious (of the risk), but also of the changes towards openness" witnessed ahead of the vote.

She said however that if one candidate won in a landslide, "that will mean that something's wrong. We're not stupid."
I'm sure we haven't heard the end of this.

Moving on ... note the following detail (from the same AFP story) ....
Under changes to the electoral law, parties were allowed to post representatives at all 40,000 polling stations who were given vote tallies at the end of polling, enabling independent projections.
There were 280,000 scrutineers, apparently approved by the candidates' representatives.

The day before the election, Bouteflika's three main challengers, including Benflis, had issued a statement saying that they projected a second-round runoff vote would be necessary.

The Interior Ministry said turnout was 59% (of 18 million eligible voters).

For more on the election ... scroll down to the April 8 entries (or you can click here).

The exact returns (not final) are ...
Abdelaziz Bouteflika - 83.49%
Ali Benflis - 7.93%
Abdallah Djaballah - 4.84%
Siad Sadi - 1.93%
Louisa Hanoune - 1.16%
Ali Fawzi Rebaine - 0.64%

UPDATE: It occurs to me that I've given a lot of space to those who doubt the veracity of this election. So I've gone in search of more positive news ....

Another member of the observer team from the European Parliament had this to say ...
... Belgian senator, Anne-Marie Lizin, on Friday said that: "To us it was clear. What we saw during this election corresponds with European standards in terms of the procedures used." She said that "talk of major and significant fraud is not credible."
UPDATE II: On April 12, the Constitutional Council announced the final and official results of the election. There were 10,508,777 votes cast (329,075 spoiled ballots) -- 58.07% participation rate.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika -- 8,651,723 -- 84.99%
Ali Benflis -- 653,951 -- 6.42%
Abdellah Djaballah -- 511,526 -- 5.02%
Said Sadi -- 197,111 -- 1.94%
Louisa Hanoune -- 101,630 -- 1.00%
Fawzi Rebaine -- 63,761 -- 0.63%