EU Observers Say Algeria Vote First Step towards Reform
Algeria's polls were a step towards reform, European Union observers said Saturday, listing a number of shortcomings in the process but stopping short of challenging its overall credibility.
Official results for Thursday's legislative election yielded a higher than expected turnout of 42 percent and tightened the ruling party's grip on power, bucking the Arab Spring of regime change and Islamist breakthroughs.
"We take note of a first step in the reform process which will need to be backed, after a constitutional review, by a deepening of democracy," the head of the EU observation team, Jose Ignacio Salafranca, told reporters.
He was delivering his 150-strong team' preliminary assessment following the Algerian regime's unprecedented decision to allow 500 foreign observers to monitor the polls.
After a campaign marked by deep voter disaffection, many Algerians argue that the results announced by the interior ministry were manipulated and far removed from reality.
Salafranca regretted that local observers were not accredited and said that several points in the electoral law were incoherent.
He also deplored that the foreign observers were denied access to a nationwide electoral roll, a move he said "was not consistent with pledges of transparency."
Salafranca reiterated his mission's satisfaction at the generally calm atmosphere in which the electoral process unfolded.