Islamist: Algeria will see Tunisian scenario

Islamist: Algeria will see Tunisian scenario

Islamist: Algeria will see Tunisian scenario

The leader of Justice and Development Front (FJD), Djaballah, speaks during a campaign meeting ahead of the polls. AFP photo

An Algerian Islamist leader said yesterday that a Tunisian-style revolt was the only option after polls he charged were fraudulent closed, and threatened a mass pullout by the smaller parties from parliament.

“These results closed the door on change by the ballot box and the Tunisian option is all that’s left for those who believe in change,” Abdallah Djaballah, who heads the Front for Justice and Development, told Agence France-Presse. His party mustered only seven seats out of the 462 up for grabs in the national assembly, according to provisional results for legislative election on May 10. The former single party, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front, tightened its grip on power by securing 220 seats.

Djaballah had hoped to benefit from the so-called Arab Spring effect and emulate the electoral gains recorded by Islamist parties in neighboring countries. But Algeria bucked the regional trend, largely preserving the political status quo in polls that even saw Islamist parties lose ground, with all seven parties contesting the vote managing only a combined 59 seats.

US welcomes results

“These elections are a farce. We do not recognize these results... They create a situation of insecurity and instability,” Djaballah said. “Sooner or later, the only option will be the Tunisian scenario,” he said, in reference to the founding uprising of the Arab Spring which toppled longtime Tunisian president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. Djaballah, 56, had warned of the risk of fraud before the polls and claimed he would expect his FJD to come out on top if the vote was “80 percent honest”. The Algerian interior minister on May 11 announced a higher-than-expected turnout of 42 percent, following a campaign marked by low voter interest and deep distrust of the political class. Several of the smaller parties that picked up around 20 seats. Foreign observers listed some shortcomings but stopped short of challenging the electoral process’ overall credbility, while Washington hailed “a welcome step in Algeria’s progress toward democratic reform.”

Djaballah, twice a presidential candidate, occupies the ideological middle ground between the banned Islamic Salvation Front the regime fought during the civil war and the local branch of the Muslim Brothers, who are in government. Djaballah previously founded two other parties, El Islah (reform) and Ennahda (renaissance), which are now part of the Green Algeria alliance, together with the Movement of Society for Peace (MSP), formerly known as Hamas.