- Title: ALGERIA: Voters oppose the elections in Islamic rebel stronghold of Tizi Ouzou
- Date: 9th April 2009
- Summary: WOMAN LETTING LITTLE GIRL PUT HER BALLOT PAPER IN
- Embargoed: 24th April 2009 13:00
- Location: Algeria
- Country: Algeria
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA9YPUBGIBPFT4NUN59VMZ2KTRV
- Story Text: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is expected to win Algeria's presidential elections on Thursday (April 9) by a big margin but there was little enthusiasm for the election on show in Tizi-Ouzou, a town 100 km east of Algiers with a history of anti-government protests.
Supporters say Bouteflika deserves the trust of the people for steering Algeria back to stability after a civil conflict in the 1990s that killed an estimated 150,000 people, but a rump of rebels continue to mount occasional attacks - a low-level insurgency that security analysts say finds sympathy among some of Algeria's millions of unemployed young people who feel their government has let them down.
The leader of al Qaeda's North African wing this week called for an election boycott and local media said rebels on Wednesday killed three security guards about 350 km (220 miles) east of the Algerian capital.
Officials at a polling station on the premises of Tizi Ouzou said that by midday only 61 of the 2,002 voters registered there had shown up.
Tizi Ouzou and the surrounding Kabylie region is a stronghold of al Qaeda's north Africa wing, the offshoots of the Islamist radical groups that waged war during the 1990s, and it has been the site of frequent fighting between government security forces and "extremists" ever since.
Now affiliated to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the group claimed credit for suicide car bomb attacks on the UN in December 2006. In March alone there were more than 20 incidents in Algeria in which security forces have been killed.
In Tizi Ouzou itself four people were killed in terror attacks and Algerian security forces shot dead three Islamic rebels in March.
More than 150,000 policemen have been deployed this week to ensure the security of the elections.
European governments fear renewed conflict or economic collapse could unleash a flood of illegal migrants into the EU, while the United States needs the support of Bouteflika's government in its global fight against al Qaeda.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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