Algerian Islamist threatens Tunisian-style revolt over vote results

| May 13, 2012 | Comments (0)
 Abdallah Djaballah

Abdallah Djaballah

An Algerian Islamist leader warned on Sunday that a Tunisian-style revolt was the only option after polls he charged were fraudulent and threatened a mass pullout of the smaller parties from parliament.

“These results closed the door on change by the ballot box and the Tunisian option is all that’s left for those who believe in change,” Abdallah Djaballah, who heads the Front for Justice and Development, told AFP.

His party mustered only seven seats out of the 462 up for grabs in the national assembly, according to provisional results for Thursday’s legislative election.

The former single party, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front, tightened its grip on power by securing 220 seats.

Djaballah had hoped to benefit from the so-called Arab Spring effect and emulate the electoral gains recorded by Islamist parties in neighboring countries.

But Algeria bucked the regional trend, largely preserving the political status quo in polls that even saw Islamist parties lose ground, with all seven parties contesting the vote managing only a combined 59 seats.

“These elections are a farce. We do not recognize these results… They create a situation of insecurity and instability,” Djaballah said.

“Sooner or later, the only option will be the Tunisian scenario,” he said, in reference to the founding uprising of the Arab Spring which toppled longtime Tunisian president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed Algeria’s elections, despite widespread suspicion over results that saw the regime tighten its grip on power, bucking the Arab Spring trend of change.

Official results from Thursday’s legislative election showed a higher-than-expected turnout of 42 percent, with the party that has ruled Algeria since independence 50 years ago winning comfortably and Islamists losing ground.

But Algeria’s main Islamist group in the polls — the Green Algeria alliance — charged the polls to elect a new national assembly were fraudulent.

Clinton nonetheless said Saturday “these elections — and the high number of women elected — are a welcome step in Algeria’s progress toward democratic reform,” in a statement issued by her spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

“The United States looks forward to working together with the newly elected National Popular Assembly and to continuing to strengthen our ties with the government and the people of Algeria,” she added.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation also praised the “successful and democratic elections… held in an organized, transparent and peaceful manner” and recorded no irregularities.

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