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Algeria's govt, protestors mobilize ahead of constitutional referendum

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RYAD KRAMDI/AFP or licensors


Algerians are being urged to vote yes to a new constitution in a November 1 referendum the government has touted as the foundation for a new state.

President Abdelmadjed Tebboune has said the new constitution, will usher in greater freedoms and democracy.

But opinion is divided. Algeria's protest movement which forced veteran ruler Abdelaziz Bouteflika out of power has called for a boycott of the vote and rejects the authority of Tebboune.  

The new constitution would give the prime minister and parliament more powers to govern the North African country of 45 million people, a draft released earlier this year showed.

"We support the constitutional reforms project and we the young people must be the future of Algeria, and we came here to support this project on November 1st," said Amin, a high school student.

Algeria's protest movement has opposed the vote, calling for an overhaul of the country's political system.

"Personally, I don't think I can trust this government which was not elected and is illegal. I do not trust these next elections, in this referendum, therefore I cannot take part in them. I do not support this project," said Ait Said Abdel Nour, a student.

The country’s constitution has been amended several times since independence from France. During the 20-year Bouteflika era, it had been drafted to suit the ex-ruler’s needs.

Other critics of the draft constitution say it maintains a powerful presidency and military while undermining the judiciary and parliament as watchdog institutions.