Algeria’s presidential elections are lurking down the horizon. One month ago, the elections’ credibility was seriously put at stake when the European Union and the American NGO National Democratic Institute (NDI) refused to monitor the event. Last Monday, another blow came through renowned Algerian novelist Yasmina Khadra when saying that “Bouteflika discredited himself the moment he decided to run for a fourth term”. Today, the current regime’s à la Guestapo propaganda techniques used through the Algerian state-run television Dzayer, to promote the current president and demonize the other candidates, bars off, once for all, any ray of hope.
Spain’s Foreign Minister’s visit to Algeria last week was another rare occasion that afforded Algerians a glimpse of their president, after John Kerry’s visit two weeks ago. Yet, above all, to my eyes, it only afforded them a glimpse of how a mummy-like character would act if featured in a Hollywood show.
During the visit, a clear breach of democracy and a blatant discredit of the elections went just under the nose of the Spanish Interior Minister, without him even raising his eyebrows.
Dzair TV, the Algerian state-run channel, presumed to display its neutrality in regards to all the election candidates, was caught red-handed demonizing Bouteflika’s main rival, Ali Benflis. In fact, the TV presenter introduced the event saying “current president Bouteflika raps the methods used by a candidate to promote himself in the elections”. Afterwards, Bouteflika was caught uttering in a mummy-like-voice to the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister that “a candidate is terrorizing Algerians during this Presidential Campaign….”.The Spanish Minister, not expecting this and seemingly, from his reaction, sensing he was put in a very awkward situation, replied: “We noticed that this presidential campaign was a difficult one. Is it that terrible?” Bouteflika elabored further, “It is an ontological question. That specific candidate is terrorizing the Algerian population saying Algeria’s stability is at stake if he does not win.”This time, the Spanish Minister only nodded his head, for fear another commentary from him will clear the way for Bouteflika to more “unwanted” talk on the matter, I understood.
Yet, to add to the irony, would you believe it, during a recent interview conducted by France 24, Benfelis said the opposite to what they alleged.
When asked: “What would you do if your perceive any form of corruption in the upcoming presidential elections?” Benfelis replied: “I don’t want my country to go through chaos. I would only use legal means if possible.”
Another striking example of the regime’s use of propaganda throughout state-run media, to polish their credibility, is their referring to the Arab league and the African Union as “International Observers.”
You may say the current regime’s propaganda techniques are a blatant breach of how “democratic elections” should run. A chaos, you may add. Yet, what adds more salt to Algeria’s injury is the World’s silence, the World “complaisance” in this Hollywoodian show.
This “complaisance” may be perceived as Geoff D. Porter, an assistant professor at the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point, wrote in an Op-Ed published recently on the New York Times the following: “when dealing with Algeria, the United States finds itself in a difficult situation. On the one hand, it would like to avoid being caught off-guard by evolving Algerian circumstances; on the other, it is constrained in shaping how those circumstances evolve.”
Is the World closing both eyes on Algeria’s elections in favor of its energy sympathy?