Algeria’s FLN narrowly wins local polls

Algeria’s long-dominant National Liberation Front has narrowly won local elections, preliminary results showed Tuesday, in a vote seen as key in efforts to turn the page on late president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s rule.

The FNL, which led the country’s war of independence from France and was for decades its only party, won 5,978 seats nationwide, followed by its traditional ally the Democratic National Rally (RND) with 4,584, electoral board chief Mohamed Charfi said.

Independents came third with 4,430 seats, Charfi told journalists.

Saturday’s vote was an important test for President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, elected in a contentious, widely boycotted 2019 ballot months after Bouteflika stepped down under pressure from the army and the Hirak pro-democracy protest movement.

Bouteflika died in September, aged 84.

In November last year, less than 24 percent of the electorate approved amendments to the constitution, while at parliamentary elections in June, voter participation hit a record low of 23 percent.

Saturday saw 36.6 percent turnout for the local elections and 34.8 percent for regional polls, Cherfi said.

He had previously rejected any comparison with local ballots under Bouteflika, which were marked by widespread fraud.

The FLN won absolute majorities in 124 out of the country’s 1,541 municipalities, but lost majorities in 479 of the 603 it had controlled.

In 552 municipalities it will have to govern alongside its allies, including the RND, which won absolute majorities in 58 city councils.

Opposition veterans the Front of Socialist forces (FFS) won an absolute majority in 47 municipalities, many of them in the restive Kabylie region.