Algeria prepares for the unwanted election

A man reads a newspaper headlining on the trial of two former Algerian prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal in Algiers

Ahmed Ouyahia, who had been prime minister four occasions, obtained a 15-year prison sentence and Abdelmalek Sellal, that had been twice premier, was detained for 12 decades.

It remains to be seen whether the protestors known as the Hirak will accept the outcome of the election.

All five presidential candidates vying for election today have ties to Bouteflika's government-two of them served as prime minister and two others had top government posts.

Protesters claim that the army, under the leadership of Ahmed Gaid Salah, is pushing for a political solution to the crisis of governability within the existing system.

Anti-government protesters see all candidates as part of the previous regime.

Algeria's powerful army chief promises that a presidential election on Thursday will chart a new era for a nation where the highest office has stood vacant for eight months.

Despite police arrests, protesters held their ground, an AFP journalist reported.

Two former industry ministers who served under Bouteflika, influential auto industry executives, bankers and other businessmen are also facing charges.

Aging President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's February announcement that he would seek a fifth term in office sparked an unprecedented mass protest movement that by April forced him to resign.

The state-run ENTV station reported an global arrest warrant was also issued by the judge on Bouchouareb.

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Dr. Paul Sullivan, a professor at the U.S. National Defense University, tells VOA that he thinks the sentences are meant to "give (Algerians) the impression of the rule of that their votes may be less radical".

"These people are tried by the military court and that, as a matter of fact, shows the exact and the very nature of the Algerian regime - there is actually a military one". Days later, the army review, El Djeich, tendered the ultimate insult, referring to those opposing the voting as either "lost" or "new Harkis", a reference to Algerians who fought for France during the independence war. The etat majeur is in the drivers' seat.

Protesters like Bourbet are determined to continue demonstrating, even after the elections are over.

"Our job is to get organised and unite to build a strong power in order to push [the whole system] to go away".

Historian and Maghreb specialist Karima Direche predicts that low turnout will make the election "a total fiasco".

According to Saleh, the transition process will be completed by a newly elected president. "He will lack legitimacy and he will be put under enormous pressure by the protesters. and by the military who brought him in power", said Ghanem.

However the capital Algiers was rocked by student protesters on Tuesday, chanting "we will not vote" and "we want freedom".

Others, such as Youcef Bouandel, said the system will remain static. It gives the impression that something is happening. but in reality nothing changes.

Weekly protests have been carried out by the people since then demanding action against the widespread corruption and an overhaul of the political system in the country.

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