Africa

Algeria MPs stage parliamentary walkout over 'poll fraud'

Delegates from the Green Algeria alliance, a grouping of moderate Islamist parties with links to the ruling establishment, hold up placards during the opening session of the new National Assembly in Algiers May 26, 2012 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some delegates held placards reading "no to fraud"

More than 60 lawmakers walked out of the inaugural session of parliament in Algeria, in protest at alleged fraud in recent elections.

The MPs, mostly from a Islamist coalition, waved banners that said "Say 'no' to fraud", before leaving after a roll call of new members.

The party claims the polls two weeks ago were fixed in favour of the ruling FLN party and its coalition partners.

Algeria was one of the few states in the region to avoid unrest last year.

Those who walked out included 49 members of the moderate Green Algeria Alliance (AVV) - who had expected to do well in the polls - and 11 members of smaller parties.

"We decided to withdraw from the first session of the National Assembly and protest officially against the results of the ballot," the AVV said in a statement.

Dissatisfaction

The session continued despite the walkout, with the rest of the 462-seat house - dominated by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) - going on to elect a new speaker.

The BBC's Chloe Arnold in Algiers says it was not clear on Saturday whether the Green Alliance intended to boycott parliament for good.

Our correspondent says the election had been billed as an alternative to the unrest that has gripped many parts of the Arab world over the last 18 months.

But turnout was low amid lack of interest and a feeling among many Algerians that the election would do little to ease unemployment and housing shortages in this oil and gas-rich nation, our correspondent adds.

The National Liberation Front (FLN) won 220 out of 463 seats in the polls, while its partner in government, the National Democratic Rally (RND), came second with 68 seats. The Islamist alliance came third with 48 seats.

In 1991, the Algerian military intervened to stop Islamists winning an election. Ten years of civil war followed between government forces and Islamist insurgents, resulting in the deaths of up to 250,000 people.

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