Algeria magistrates to boycott July 4 presidential election

Algerian lawyers and judges chant slogans and raise a national flag as they gather for a demonstration for the independence of the judiciary outside the Justice Ministry headquarters in the capital Algiers. (AFP)

Algeria’s magistrates, who play a key role overseeing the country’s elections, said on Saturday they would boycott a July 4 presidential election in support of the protest movement.

Protestors have held vast rallies calling for allies of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down after the veteran leader quit earlier this month.

They have rejected the July poll, arguing that elections cannot be free and fair if they are held under the same judicial framework and institutions like those of the Bouteflika regime.

Interim leader Abdelkader Bensalah has pledged a “transparent” vote but protestors have called for him to leave office too.

More than 100 magistrates staged a protest outside the justice ministry on Saturday in response to a call by the Magistrates’ Club – a nascent group set up as an alternative to the regime’s National Magistrates’ Syndicate (SNM).

“The Magistrates’ Club has decided to boycott the task of supervising the presidential election,” said Saad Eddine Merzoug, a judge from El Oued in the country’s southeast.

Merzoug said the new club had members at every court in the country, without specifying numbers.

Magistrates play a major role in organizing votes in Algeria. Notably, they oversee the electoral roll, a frequent source of disputes between the regime and the opposition.

A revision of the register is set to take place later this month, ahead of the July election.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:59 - GMT 06:59
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