This is the year, it seems, of mock elections in the Meghreb.
First on the list is Algeria, which is scheduled to hold a presidential vote a few days from now on April 9th. After nearly a decade of an atrocious civil war that broke out in 1992 after the country’s secular general intervened to stop an Islamic fundamentalist party from winning the democratically held national elections. Over 200,000 Algerians were killed in that war, often in brutal fashion by the Islamists. With the election of Abdel Aziz Bouteflika in 1999, the war drew to a close. Since then the nation has also had a blanket amnesty and compensation program to ease the way back to normality.
Abdel Aziz originally was not supposed to stand for a third time, but after modifying the constitution to end term limits [as his neighbor in Tunisia has also done] the president is certain to be elected again on April 9th. Although seeking the high office this time while allowing opposition candidates, a luxury he afforded himself without last time; the election will be a sham.
The opposition is a facade made up of, naturally, token candidates. Given the Abdel Aziz’s victory is assured, one is baffled why the Algerian government would even squander resources so that the Algerian expats community in Tunisia would vote. It is not like this is going to be a tight race and every vote counts.
Nonetheless, whatever the motives, the Algerian Embassy in Tunisia and its consults in the cities of El Kef and Gafsa are reaching out to the 20,000 Algerians living in Tunisia so that they may vote.
For the past two weeks, Algerian consulates in the capital and the provinces of El Kef and Gafsa have conducted a media campaign to urge Algerians to take part in the election.
The campaign utilises print and broadcast media, phone and mail messages and direct contact, as well as a website for communication between the community and the General Consulate in Tunis.
The reason this story caught my attention is that it makes me feel sorry for not just the Algerian who have to be reminded and bothered to vote in pointless elections, but more so for the innocent Tunisians who have to be bombarded with an ad campaign advertising a sham election when they have their own one to be annoyed by.
Algeria’s not the only one hosting an election. Tunisia’s President Zine El-Abaden Ben Ali, in his 22nd year in office, is now seeking a fourth term. Ben Ali’s rule is so authoritarian he makes Abdel Aziz appear the liberal.
Tunisia’s holds its vote this fall and the only news will be what decimal number comes after the 99% recorded for Ben Ali. Ben Ali’s dyed-hair and botoxed image infects many Tunisian billboards, serving as a constant reminder of his corrupt and often brutal rule. As the election nears, his visage will only
grow more numerous. Smiling and clapped hand in all.
Pray for the Tunisians.
Source: Marco Villa, Instablogs