Algerian president sets June date for early legislative elections

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Algerian President Abelmadjid Tebboune has set June 12 for early legislative elections, the presidency said on Thursday, after announcing the dissolution of the lower house of parliament last month.

The vote is part of political reforms promised by Tebboune following mass protests that forced his predecessor, Abelaziz Bouteflika, to resign in 2019 after two decades in power.

Algerians in November last year voted for amendments to the constitution giving more powers to the prime minister and parliament, despite low voter turnout.

Bouteflika's allies had an overwhelming majority in the dissolved lower house which was elected in May 2017 for five years.

Elected in December 2019, Tebboune has vowed to implement political and economic changes in a bid to put an end to the protest movement which demanded the departure of the whole ruling elite.

Last month he ordered the release of 59 detainees of the protest movement known as Hirak in an apparent bid to stop the protests that first broke out on Feb. 22, 2019.

But demonstrations resumed three weeks ago after a halt caused by a coronavirus lockdown imposed by the government in March 2020.

In another effort to satisfy protesters, Algeria’s government finalised a new electoral bill Sunday aimed at limiting corruption and giving voters more choice.

The last legislative election, in 2017, was marred by financial scandals that eventually sent several top officials to prison.

The Hirak protest movement pushed out Tebboune’s predecessor in 2019 after 20 years in power, but activists say the changes so far to Algeria’s opaque, military-dominated power structure have only been cosmetic.