- Title: FRANCE: Algerian nationals cast early votes for country's presidential elections
- Date: 8th April 2009
- Summary: MORE OF PEOPLE WAITING TO VOTE
- Embargoed: 23rd April 2009 13:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: International Relations,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA26O4GXTDJFUZBWTGAGWKACTIU
- Story Text: Algerian nationals in the coastal French town of Marseille turn out to cast early votes for Algerian presidential election, to take place in on April
Algerian nationals began casting their ballots in the southern French city of Marseilles on Saturday (April 4) for the upcoming Algerian presidential election, to be held in the country on Thursday (April 9).
With some 70,000 registered voters, Marseille is home to the second largest Algerian community in France, after Paris.
"We are asking everyone to remain calm so that we can organise things properly, We are seeing a large turnout, which we really did not expect. I would say it is a bit like this community had done in 1995,"
said Zeroual Bousefat of the Algerian Consulate in Marseille.
Crowds of voters waited in long lines to cast their vote in Marseille on the first day of voting, and some gave up and decided to come back another day.
"I wanted to vote but there are too many people. I will come back Wednesday, or some other day before Thursday," said Oumamar Fatima.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 72, is expected to win the election by a comfortable margin. Bouteflika was first elected in 1999 and was re-elected in 2004. Algerian lawmakers cancelled the two-term limit in the Algerian constitutional in November 2008, enabling Bouteflika to run for a third five-year term. A decision that has angered opposition and led most of them to boycott.
"For me, he is the winner. We are with him always, we never stop.
Inch Allah. I hope he wins," said Marseille shopkeeper Hassein Chisara.
Bouteflika has promised a national development programme worth 150 billion dollars if re-elected. But social problems remain profound and the government is still struggling to restore hope to a population scarred by a 1990's war in which the army quelled an Islamist insurgency.
"It's all the same. Bouteflika has done good work, but things will never change. The day when things really change, everyone will vote. But now nobody cares. What do they want? Nothing. They do like their parents, they say if my parents voted for so-and-so then I will vote for so-and-so. But young people don't care about politics," said Hakim Zinedine.
Bouteflika has sidelined the Algerian opposition, and parties based on overtly religious or ethnic lines are banned. As a result, voter turnout is expected to be low.
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