Algeria holds presidential election as thousands demonstrate against vote

Thousands of people took to the streets in central Algiers on Thursday chanting “No vote! We want freedom!” as the…

Thousands of people took to the streets in central Algiers on Thursday chanting “No vote! We want freedom!” as the authorities held a presidential election that a mass protest movement views as a charade intended to keep the ruling elite in power.

Police rushed the crowd with sticks to disperse the marchers, but then fell back as more protesters arrived.

The army, the strongest political player, sees the election as the only way to restore order by naming a successor to Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was toppled by a popular uprising earlier this year after two decades in office.

Huge protests that brought down Bouteflika have continued for 10 months, and the demonstrators have sworn to boycott the election. All five candidates that won approval to stand are former senior officials, including two former prime ministers, and protesters say none is likely to challenge the army’s dominance.

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