Algeria: Voters Approve New Constitution Amid Low Turnout, Opposition Boycott
Algeria’s electoral commission on Monday announced a large majority of voters have approved a revised constitution that imposes term limits, reported Africa News. The voting turnout was, however, low and the opposition also boycotted the vote.
The opposition said that they were barred from campaign venues or from expressing their opinions and views on public television or radio.
The one-day referendum comes almost 19 months after mass street protests in Algeria forced long-time president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down.
During a news conference, National Independent Elections Authority (ANIE) chief Mohamed Charfi said the revised constitution has been passed with 66.8 percent of the vote, noting that the exercise took place in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.
Charfi said that around 5.6 million people voted out of 24.4 million eligible voters, which constituted a turnout of 23.7 percent. He revealed that the number of votes in favor of the revision was more than 3.3 million, or 66.8 percent of the total number.
Charfi said that the result of the referendum was correct from a legal and constitutional point of view. He said that the referendum’s turnout is “proof of the people’s support for change ahead of building up a new Algeria, in which the people will have its word to say, as it has already been done in Sunday’s referendum.”
The vote had widely been seen as the government’s plan to neutralize the Hirak protest movement, which removed long-time president Bouteflika from power.
The poll was held in the absence of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who is currently overseas for medical treatment and widely suspected to have the Covid-19 illness. Tebboune came to office after a December election with a turnout of just under 40 percent.
The coronavirus has infected more than 57,000 people and led to the death of at least 1,973 people in Algeria.