Thursday, April 08, 2004

Algeria: president's rivals fear vote fraud

Here it is ...
Most observers agree that suspicions would crop up, given the distribution of support among the six candidates, if Bouteflika wins outright on Thursday by garnering more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round.

A joint communique issued Tuesday by the president's three main rivals -- Benflis, Islamic candidate Abdallah Djaballah and Said Sadi, a secularist -- alleged that a "credible plot" was being hatched in which Bouteflika's camp would claim victory with 53 to 55 percent of the vote even before all the ballots were counted.
The other two candidates have made statments as well ...
.... Louisa Hanun, put out a separate statement saying "it cannot be ruled out that fraud may tarnish the credibility of this election."

And nationalist candidate Ali Fawzi Rebaine put his name to a statement by all five of Boutaflika's rivals alleging that "the first signs of plans for fraud" were already visible.
But as the following excerpt shows, not everybody sees a first ballot win by Bouteflika as a sign of fraud.
Ahmed Fattani, publisher of the daily L’Expression, said a first-round win by Bouteflika was likely, given his popularity and his efforts to end the traumatizing civil war in the north African country.

... While the president deserves to be re-elected in the first round, if he has to face an unprecedented run-off vote two weeks from now, “then we’ll be in a real democracy,” Fattani said. He compared the two scenarios to the difference between black and white and color television. “Which would you want?” he asked.
There are some 40,000 polling stations across the country ... and 120 international observers to cover that territory. Official results are not expected before Friday.

Interesting historical point ... in the 1999 elections, all the candidates challenging Bouteflika dropped out the day before the election claiming that the vote had been rigged.