A polling center was ransacked Thursday in Béjaïa, a big city in the rebellious Algerian region of Kabylia (north), and two are besieged by opponents of the presidential poll which opened in the morning, according to witnesses and security sources .
These opponents of the poll, perceived by the protest which has been stirring Algeria since February as a maneuver by the regime to regenerate themselves, “ransacked ballot boxes and destroyed part of the electoral lists” and ballots at the Ibn Toumert school, reported witnesses contacted by AFP from Algiers.
Images posted on social networks show many young people tearing up voters’ lists in a school yard littered with ballots.
Witnesses had previously reported a second vote center sacked, which sources denied security sources to AFP. On the other hand, two polling centers are currently besieged and voting operations have had to be canceled in one of them, according to these sources.
In Tizi Ouzou, a large crowd besieges the Kerrad Rachid polling center, according to witnesses, while in another, the assessors were forced to leave by opponents of the ballot, who must designate the successor of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, urged to resignation in April.
According to residents, an anti-election demonstration is taking place in Bouira, another locality in Kabylia, the region where most of the Berber-speaking minority in Algeria is concentrated.
Rapid police response
In the center of Algiers, the police intervened very early on Thursday morning to prevent demonstrators from coming together to protest the presidential election.
The police made about ten arrests, also summoning the passers-by to leave the premises, found journalists of the AFP.
A large police force – trucks, riot police, uniformed and plainclothes – is deployed in the center of the capital.
The five presidential candidates are all considered by the protest as children of the « system » and accused of acting as surety.
A quarter of the Algerian population, some 10 million people, is Berber-speaking. The claims related to the Amazigh identity (Berber) have long been denied or even repressed by the state, built around Arabity.