Algeria’s Constitutional Council has announced on state television Monday that Abdelmadjid Tebboune is the new president of the North African country for the next five years, despite a historic low turnout and mass protests challenging his election.
Algeria: Protesters Rally Against Dec. 12 Presidential Election
The 74-year-old was elected Thursday with around 58 percent of the vote, a result that prevented a runoff vote, yet the turnout was the lowest in decades, barely reaching 40 percent of registered voters.
The constitutional body said the election was carried out in a “good climate” omitting to mention the protesters that took to the streets of the capital Algiers and other cities every Friday since February, as hundreds of thousands of people rejecting the old ruling elite that has been clinging to power since the country’s independence (1963), and denouncing the strong interference of the military in political affairs, as well as corruption raging through the oil-rich country.
The peaceful pro-democracy and anti-old-guard movement forced out Tebboune’s predecessor, former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika who remained in power for 20 years.
Protesters boycotted and demonstrated against the contentious election which they called "a farce" as all the candidates had links with “Bouteflika’s clan” and represented what they are fighting against. They both reject the victory of Tebboune, who served as prime minister under the former president, and the vote that was organized by a power structure they want to get rid of.
On Friday, following the announcement of his victory, Tebboune vowed to reach out to the protesters and fight corruption.
His tenure as PM under Bouteflika started in May 2017, but ended less than four months later, as he allegedly tried to present himself as a successor to the former president during a meeting with his French counterpart Edouard Philippe in Paris, some days before he was dismissed.
After his dismissal, Tebboune acquired the reputation of a fighter against the interests of the ruling clan, which presented him with a certain advantage during the election campaign. His political capital, however, began to be diluted when several cases of alleged corruption were made public.
In one of them, Tebboune's son, Jaled, appeared before authorities to testify in a money laundering and cocaine smuggling case.