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Voter apathy marks Algeria local polls as the country's economic crisis bites


Algerian voters headed to the polls on Thursday, to choose new local leaders in an election marred by frustration over growing poverty caused by low oil prices.

More than 50 political parties are fielding candidates in the elections for mayors and council members in 1,541 towns and 48 local assemblies.

Ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika urged voters to turn out and promised to modernize public services.

The campaigns, which ended on Sunday, went unnoticed by most of the population. They were overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the possibility that Bouteflika will opt for a fifth term in 2019.

The presidential coalition of the National Liberation Front (FNL) and National Democratic Rally (RND) parties is likely to keep its majority in the local assemblies.

Reports say voter apathy is widespread in the oil dependent country of around 23 million people.

The north African country is suffering from a prolonged economic slump that has multiplied the number of people trying to migrate to Europe.

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