We follow today's elections in Algeria. Are you in Algeria? What do you think? Get in touch with News Editor Dania Akkad at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us on Twitter @MiddleEastEye
11.36 President Abdelaziz Bouteflika won a fourth term in office with 81 percent of the vote; opposition leader tells MEE parties will unite to take on new government
You can read more aboput the election results here: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/bouteflika-wins-fourth-term-office
Bouteflika wins by 81.53%
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika clinched a fourth term on Friday with 81.53% of the vote. Read here for more details.
More on the results on Friday
Reports from Algiers suggest results for the election will start to be released around midnight in Algeria (also midnight GMT). We will be following on these results first thing Friday - come back for updates.
An Algiers cabbie weighs in
As MEE journalist Massinissa Benlakehal headed to the FLN Headquarters in Algiers to report on the elections, he began chatting with Salim, a cab driver and sent this snapshot:
Salim, 35, told MEE: "I lived in England for a long time ago, and now I'm in Algeria because I do believe that this country still has future."
When asked about the elections and what they mean to him, he replied simply, "it is a historical day that all Algerians were expecting with alot of hope. Today, we are in 2014 and people want to live as they've just experienced the survival for along time.
We have the competence and the wealth, natural resources. We want a better Algeria for our children. Our parents suffered as we did so hopefully our children could have a better life in an Algeria. We are willing to be the Africa's Europe. Why not? It is something we can largely do.
I am just a cab driver not a politician and I just want it to be honest and it to develop further.
I only supoort the man who can lead the country,it has nothing to do with neither Bouteflika nor Benflis. We just want everyone to make an effort to help build this country."
The vote count begins
Here are photos just sent through by photographer Mohamed Kouache as the vote count begins in Algiers.
Benflis to MEE: I will lift ban on protests if elected
Presidential candidate Ali Benflis votes in Algeria's election on Thursday (Mohamed Kaouche)
In an interview with MEE earlier on Thursday, presidential challenger Ali Benflis said if elected, he will immediately lift all bans on protests. He also reaffirmed support for a Tunisia-style national dialogue process and a new Algerian constitution.
Algerian state TV showing long lines of voters, no mention of protests
MEE journalist Massinissa Benlakehal reports: Algeria's state run TV, locally known as ENTV, is broadcasting images of long lines of people waiting their turn to cast their vote in polling offices. ENTV's coverage is focusing on people who express their satisfaction with the election process and does not mention the clashes and protests that occured earlier today in the Saharidj and Mechdellah localities and other parts the country.
Interior Minister: Participation at 23.25 percent
Algerian Minister of Interior Tayeb Belaiz has annouced that 23.25 percent of eligible Algerian voters participated in the election, as of 2 pm.
When will we know the results?
Preliminary results of the election are expected to be released early this evening with final results reported tomorrow, according to MEE journalist in Algiers, Massinissa Benlakehal.
Controversy surrounding Bouteflika bid dividing ruling oligarchy
MEE columnist Yasmine Ryan wrote in Foreign Policy on Tuesday: "The controversy surrounding [Bouteflika's] bid for a fourth term has divided the ruling oligarchy to an extent not seen in years."
Also in the article, Ryan writes: "According to Michael Willis, a professor of North African politics at the University of Oxford, the ruling elite doesn't want to take any chances of putting in place a president who might be too independent. Despite simmering clan feuds, Bouteflika is still viewed as the most "manageable" way to preserve the status quo. 'It suggests they're running out of ideas,' he says. 'On some level, if you have somebody who's very, very ill and not very active, then at least well they know that that person won't go off on their own and create problems.'"
Scenes from Thursday's election
Gallery by photographer Mohamed Kaouche
Clashes continue east of Bouira
MEE journalist Massinissa Benlakehal reports: So far there are 19 gendarmes (security elements) and 13 protestors have been reported injured in the continuing clashes in the locality of Saharidj, east of Bouira. Protestors are using stones and molotov cocktails against the gendarmerie. Many polling offices have been ransacked in Bouira's areas of Ahnif and other villages of the locality of Mechdellah in the same province.
AFP is also reporting injuries in Kabylie
Clashes erupted in Algeria's restive Kabylie region between security forces and youths opposed to Thursday's presidential election, leaving around 40 people wounded, local sources said.
Separate groups of youths seeking to disrupt voting in the Bouria region, southeast of Algiers, ransacked polling stations in three localities shortly after they opened at 0700 GMT, with the police firing to disperse them.
Forty-one people were injured in the unrest, including 28 policemen, with voting temporarily suspended in the affected voting centres, the sources said.
In the capital, where security forces have been heavily deployed, police arrested five protesters shouting anti-regime slogans, an AFP journalist reported.
Zitout: "We are like in the end of regime, end of era"
Earlier today, MEE interviewed Mohamed Zitout, one of the founders of the Algerian opposition group, Rachad Movement. He said of the elections:
"It's very sad where we are at the moment, but we are going to see, if there are demonstrations today . . . The president's health has deteriorated . . . That's never happened before. We have never seen a president in a republic being elected while in this terrible health situation and being on a disabled chair. It gives an idea about the atmostphere. We are like in the end of regime, end of era, but we don't know exaclty what is going to happen. We are escalating torward a chaotic situation which may come in the coming weeks and months."
Algeria's youth bulge
Algeria has a very young population, which some complain has created mass youth unemployment and disatisfaction. The shift is clear if you compare Algeria's population today, with the population on the eve of independence in 1960
Algeria's population in 2010 from PopulationPyramid.net
Algeria's demographics 2010
Algeria's population in 1960:
Algeria's population in 1960
Imad Mesdoua interview on France 24
Imad Mesdoua a political analyst on Algeria, told France 24:
“Two key things to look out for are the level of turnout throughout the county – which in recent years has been a key factor to assessing these election.
And other key factor is how Benflis reacts to the result… He has army of observers – 60,000 observers according to him - places around country’s polling stations to prevent fraud.”
Mesdoua also blamed the big rift between the aging political elite and the relatively young population for the de-politicisation of the Algerian population, which he believes is already traumatised by the civil war.
Imad Mesdoua on France 24
Keep following Imad on Twitter for more updates @ImadMesdoua
Interior Minister: Voter participation rate 9.15 percent
MEE journalist Massinissa Benlakehal reports: During the first hours of the vote, 9.15 percent of eligible voters in Algeria participated in the vote, according to Algerian Interior Minister Tayeb Belaiz.
Video: Presidential candidate Louisa Hanoune cast vote
Thank you for the heads up, @Imad Mesdoua
Violence reported in Berber-speaking provinces
Clashes and street violence is being reported in several places in the Berber-speaking provinces of Bouira (90 km east of Algiers) and Bejaia (260 km east of Algiers), according to MEE journalist Massinissa Benlakehal. In some villages in Bouira, a dozen of young people have reportedly ransacked the polling office and clashes have kicked off between young people and the gendarmerie.
Bouteflika casts vote
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika cast his vote in a school in El Biar from a wheelchair, with his young nephew and two brothers, Nacer and Said, in tow, according to freelance reporter Massinissa Benlakehal.
Bouteflika casts vote on Thursday (AFP)
Polls open; Bouteflika expected to vote at 10am GMT
Polls have been open in Algeria for the past two hours and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is expected cast his vote shortly at the Shiekh Bachir el-Ibrahimi school in El Biar, according to Massinissa Benlakehal, a journalist reporting for MEE from downtown Algiers.
Benlakehal reports: "There are 23 million registered voters who are expected to vote in 50,000 polling offices around the country today . . . This morning, downtown of Algiers, the city looked calm, almost few cars circulating. We noticed that the authorities have stepped up security by increasing police officers presence, some with heavy arms, dispersed in many places such as near the polling stations, which are generally primary schools."
Live Blogging Algerian elections today
Algerians head to the polls today to cast votes in the country's presidential election. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is widely expected to win, faces five challengers, four of whom have previously run against him.
They are former prime minister, Ali Benflis; Louisa Hanoune, a member of parliament; Moussa Touati, a former soldier and founder of the Algerian National front; and Ali Fawzi Rebaine, who co-founded the country's first human rights group. A fourth candidate, Abdelaziz Belaid, head of the El-Moustakbel Front and also the youngest of the group, is running for the first time.
If elected, this would be Bouteflika's fourth term since taking the helm in 1999. For the past year, he has been in poor health after suffering a mini-stroke and spending three months in a French hospital. Much has been written of his age and the possibility that he may die in office, even if elected. MEE columnist Jeremy Keenan, a longtime observer of Algerian politics, however has been highlighting the more immediate possibility that Benflis may get more votes than Bouteflika. We will be following those developments here and in the days to come.
The elections have brought rare protests to the streets, including those led by a recently found group called Barakat (meaning Enough in Arabic) and an election boycott by several parties. What are Barakat and boycotting parties calling for? And what do Algerians who aren't protesting have to say? Stay tuned here for field reports, photos and interviews with observers throughout the day.