The beginning of the campaign for the presidential election of December 12 in Algeria takes place in a « climate of repression » and infringements of freedoms, unfavorable to the free expression of opinions, worries Thursday Amnesty International.
Since the opening of the election campaign on Sunday, travel and meetings of the five candidates have been regularly disrupted by opponents of the polls, who must elect a successor to Abdelaziz Bouteflika, president for 20 years and forced to resign early April by a new protest movement, the « Hirak ».
Dozens of people were arrested – and some convicted – at these rallies and at demonstrations against the holding of the ballot, rejected by the « Hirak » who believes that it is only intended to regenerate the « system » in power. Algeria since 1962.
« Respect for the rights to freedom of expression, association and meetings » is an essential condition in any electoral process, « said the human rights organization in a statement. « Opponents of elections or government policies must have the opportunity to express their views without fear of reprisal or repression.
Amnesty « is deeply concerned by this climate of repression and restrictions on the freedom of expression that marks the beginning of the electoral campaign, » said Hassina Oussedik, director of the organization’s Algerian office in the statement.
The Algerian justice system sentenced four people who had disturbed the day before in Tlemcen (450 km south-west of Algiers) a meeting of the candidate Ali Benflis, former prime minister of Bouteflika, while 14 other have been suspended for two months.
Five participants in a demonstration hostile to the holding of the polls, arrested on 14 November in Chlef (170 km southwest) of Algiers are accused of « impeding the conduct of the electoral campaign » and were placed Sunday in pre-trial detention .
« Algerian justice must clearly indicate that in Algeria everyone has the right to freely express their opinions, especially during the current election campaign, » said Amnesty.