Algeria’s South Boiling after Vote Rigging
The restive Algerian southern town of Ouargla has been rocked by violent clashes between protesters who accuse the government of rigging local elections and security forces who fired tear gas.
The protesters have been taking to the streets for three days since the announcement of the preliminary results of the local election on November 23.
Security forces resorted to firing tear gas and warning shots in the air to disperse protesters in manifestations that left at least three injured, including a citizen with risk of losing sight after being hit in the face with a tear gas.
The protesters call for a probe into the vote rigging involving the authorities leading to the victory of the ruling-party’s (FLN) candidate to the detriment of his contender from the PNSD party.
The recent violence in Ouargla brings to memory the unrest that shook the city in 2013 after its youth staged protests against the widespread unemployment in a region that has been neglected for decades by the central authorities.
The peaceful unemployment protests in the southern towns of Laghouat and Ouargla were met with arrests and intimidation in 2013.
The recent manifestations against vote fraud in the south adds to the discontent of Algeria’s southern population whose main cities were marred by violent confrontations.
The coincidence of unrest at In Salah, Ouargla and Ghardaia, demonstrates frustration with a centralized regime as well as the ambition of the locals for more inclusion and voice in the state.
Fueling the protest movements in Ouargla and In Salah are demands for greater benefits from the extraction of natural resources as well as environmental concerns on the backdrop of Algeria’s intent to invest in shale gas.