Opposition calls for voting reforms

08 December 2003
Algeria's main opposition group, Al-Islah, on 8 December called for changes to the electoral code which would ban military and security service personnel voting. 'We want to establish a democratic system and get the military institution out of politics,' said the vice president of the National People's Assembly and Al-Islah member, Lakhdar Ben Khalef. 'Algeria has opted for a democratic system, but the current electoral code is not aligned with this system.'

Algerian Interior Minister, Noureddine Zerhouni, condemned Khalef's comments. In an article published by local media on 8 December, he said that any such reforms would 'negatively affect the electoral process, as a large number [of people] would not vote'. The call for voting reform came days after US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Algeria and called for the presidential elections to be free and fair, with equal media access for all candidates (MEED 4:12:03).

The upcoming elections in March 2004 have been much anticipated by observers. In a blow to President Bouteflika, the former ruling party, the National Liberation Front (FLN) on 3 October chose its leader and former prime minister, Ali Benflis, as its presidential candidate (MEED 7:10:03).

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