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Polls open in Algeria's tense general elections

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RYAD KRAMDI/AFP or licensors


Polls opened in Algeria on Saturday for a tense election.

It's the first legislative polls since former long time President Bouteflika was forced from office in 2019.

His replacement President Tebboune says the vote is to tackle corruption and build a "new Algeria".

Some 24 million Algerians are called upon to elect the 407 deputies of the National People's Assembly for a five-year term.

Voters will have more than 13,000 candidates to choose from- more than half of them listed as an independent.

This is the first time that such a large number of independents have come forward to face contenders endorsed by parties largely discredited and held responsible for the crisis in the country.

These newcomers, with a vague affiliation, could establish themselves as a new force with the approval of the government, which appealed to "young people" and encouraged their candidacies.

But the opposition Hirak Protest movement has called for a boycott

Their demonstrations pressured Bouteflika to resign but have since called for an overhaul to the political system.

They also denounce a crackdown by authorities

On Thursday three prominent Hirak figures Karim Tabbou, Ihsane El Kadi and journalist Khaled Draren were arrested but were later released on Friday evening. Their arrest on the eve of the election sparked an international outcry.

Preliminary results of the vote are expected on Sunday.

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