Algeria declares former PM Tebboune winner of presidential election

Protesters say the contest between five officially sanctioned candidates to replace ousted leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika was an illegitimate sham. (File/AFP)
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Updated 13 December 2019

Algeria declares former PM Tebboune winner of presidential election

  • Abdelmadjid Tebboune had won Thursday's presidential election with 58 percent of the vote
  • Authorities said 40 percent of voters took part in Thursday’s election

ALGIERS: Algeria's electoral body said on Friday that former prime minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune had won Thursday's presidential election with 58 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results.
The final voter turnout was 40 percent, the electoral body's head said in a televised news conference in Algiers.

Thousands of demonstrators were expected to take to the streets of Algeria on Friday to denounce a presidential election they reject as a charade to keep the ruling elite in power.
The authorities, including the powerful army, argue that the only way to move the country forward after demonstrators brought down Bouteflika in a popular uprising in April is to elect a successor.
But weekly protests that toppled Bouteflika have not stopped, with demonstrators demanding the entire ruling elite cede power to a new generation, despite no obvious leader emerging to represent them. The protesters refer to themselves simply as “Hirak,” or “the movement.”
All five candidates were former senior officials, including two ex-prime ministers, two former ministers and a former member of the ruling party’s central committee.
Protesters marched in cities and towns across Algeria throughout Thursday’s election, in some places clashing with police, who tried to disperse them with baton charges.
Late on Thursday, the election body said some 9 million Algerians took part in the election.
“The turnout is satisfying and it will give the new president enough backing to implement his reforms,” said Ahmed Mizab, a commentator on state television, saying it showed the decision to hold the elections was “propitious and right.”
But Riad Mekersi, 24, who has participated in all the Hirak protests since Feb. 22 in Algiers, said the movement will continue no matter who wins.
“We have toppled Bouteflika, and we will topple all the system’s men. We won’t give up,” he said.
Even without questions over his legitimacy, the next president faces difficult times.
Nearly all Algerian state revenues come from oil and gas exports, which have declined in both price and volume in recent years. The government has already approved a 2020 budget with a 9 percent cut in public spending, though politically sensitive subsidies remain untouched.


Erdogan issues new terror warning to Europe over conflict in Libya

Updated 19 January 2020

Erdogan issues new terror warning to Europe over conflict in Libya

  • Support government in Tripoli or Daesh will be unleashed again, Turkish president says

JEDDAH: Europe will face a new terrorist threat unless it steps up its support for the beleaguered Libyan government in Tripoli, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Saturday.

The Turkish president spoke on the eve of a UN-sponsored summit of world leaders in Berlin aimed at resolving the conflict between Tripoli’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libya National Army (LNA) led by eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

“Europe will encounter a fresh set of problems and threats if Libya’s legitimate government were to fall,” Erdogan said.

“Terrorist organizations such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda, which suffered a military defeat in Syria and Iraq, will find fertile ground to get back on their feet. “To leave Libya at the mercy of a warlord would be a mistake of historic proportions.”

Europe is unlikely to be impressed by Erdogan’s threats, analysts told Arab News. 

“Erdogan bets on military support for the government whereas Germany, in line with the UN, wants to implement the previously agreed arms embargo. This is where Europe and Turkey need to find a common line on Sunday,” said Mercator-IPC senior fellow Michael Thumann.

BACKGROUND

In a veiled rebuke to Erdogan, the UN special envoy for Libya said the involvement of foreign forces was making matters worse.

The GNA, led by Fayez Al-Sarraj, has been under siege by Haftar’s forces since April. Erdogan has sent Turkish military advisers and trainers to help Al-Sarraj’s forces, and has also redeployed up to 2,000 Turkish-backed mercenary fighters from the conflict in Syria.

In a veiled rebuke to Erdogan, the UN special envoy for Libya said the involvement of foreign forces was making matters worse.

“All foreign interference can provide some aspirin effect in the short term, but Libya needs all foreign interference to stop. That’s one of the objectives of this conference,” Ghassan Salame said.

The UN envoy also said he hoped but “could not predict” whether closed eastern oil ports would be reopened soon. 

Terminals across eastern and central Libya were shut on Friday by tribesmen allied to Haftar, in an attempt to choke off revenue to the government in Tripoli.

The closures are likely to be discussed at the summit. “If the thing is not solved between today and tomorrow I expect the issue to be raised, yes,” Salame said.

He said he hoped Haftar would consider extending a truce that has largely held for a week, despite the two sides failing to sign a deal at talks last week in Moscow.

The aims of Sunday’s summit are a permanent cease-fire, enforcement of a widely ignored UN arms embargo and a return to political efforts for peace.