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Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Algerian press lukewarm about poll
Algerian party posters in the capital
A number of parties have called for a boycott
The tactics employed by party leaders to convince people to cast their votes in Thursday's parliamentary election come in for criticism in most Algerian newspapers.

The headline in the independent Arabic-language daily El-Khabar - "Political terrorising" - sums up the mood.

"In the past, political parties used to tell voters during their election campaigns that their ballots were an expression of trust, and that the choice was between right and wrong," the paper says.


On the eve of the poll, all (Berber) calls for a boycott have been answered: the headquarters of the administrative districts have been closed, election billboards destroyed and ballot boxes burnt.

Le Matin
The government and its affiliated parties - the National Liberation Front and the Democratic National Rally - have urged people to turn out in large numbers.

"Today there are some who are urging citizens to vote in order to save Algeria from the threat of danger. In other words, anyone who does not vote will be regarded as a traitor," El-Khabar says.

Berber dimension

The Berber-dominated Rally for Culture and Democracy and the Socialist Forces Front have called for an "active" boycott of the election.

The independent Le Matin believes that the Berbers' year-long protest has been "ignored, insulted and repressed".

"On the eve of the poll, all calls for a boycott have been answered: the headquarters of the administrative districts have been closed, election billboards destroyed and ballot boxes burnt even inside the polling stations of the police and army barracks," notes the French-language daily.

Explaining the viewpoint of those who back the move, El-Khabar writes: "The boycott supporters are saying that voting means giving credibility to an authoritarian regime ... and acting against the motherland."

"This is no more than psychological pressure on citizens," the newspaper says.

And the paper advises politicians that "political ethics demand that citzens be allowed to choose freely, and that there should be an end to terrorising them and playing with their feelings".

Lacklustre campaign

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
President Bouteflika was booed at a university campus
"No political, economic or social programme was presented to boost an otherwise dull election campaign," laments the independent La Tribune.

"We heard only populist and demagogic speeches, and yet more speeches," says the French-language daily.

The paper remarks that many people cannot be bothered to check or compare what is on offer.

And it imagines that the thoughts of the average Algerian would run along these lines: "I don't see why I should vote for someone who will earn 30m centimes [equivalent to 55 times the minimum wage], and once elected, he is going to ignore us."

A cartoon in the independent Al-Fadjr is more direct. It depicts a ballot box as a toilet with a ballot paper going into it. A hand is pulling the chain to flush it down the pan.


Algerians have shown great enthusiasm for the forthcoming legislative elections

El Moudjahid
While Le Matin points to a low level of involvement by Algerians in party meetings as being indicative of a "socio-political rift between those in power and the citizens".

The paper hopes that one day the authorities will "realise that the people are craving to break free from a system which has exhausted its capacities to renew itself".

But the state-owned daily El Moudjahid sees things rather differently, declaring that Algerians "have shown great enthusiasm for the forthcoming legislative elections".

It says voters know that on 30 May, "there will not be any fraud, because the firm instructions given by the president of the republic are being scrupulously respected on the ground".

"Everyone is aware of the importance of the long-term impact of such an election on the country, particularly on its institutional stability," it concludes.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

28 May 02 | Media reports
28 May 02 | Middle East
27 May 02 | Middle East
18 Mar 02 | Country profiles
18 Mar 02 | Middle East
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