Algeria .. “Corrupt money” destroys hundreds of candidates for elections

Algeria / Abbas Mimouni / Anatolia

Article 200 of the Algerian Electoral Code has provoked much controversy, as it has rejected many applications for early parliamentary elections.
The seventh paragraph of the article emphasizes that the candidate should not be known for his involvement with the suspicious financial and business circles, and his influence (..) on the free choice of voters.
The Electoral Commission: The judiciary supported 704 appeals, out of 847 submitted by candidates whose applications were rejected.
– Judge: Paragraph 7 of Section 200 of the Electoral Act is more political than legal.

Hundreds of candidates for the early parliamentary elections in Algeria found themselves out of the race, after failing to test the conditions set by an article in the electoral law, despite spreading widespread controversy over the executive formula has.

Algeria has been preparing for the elections to the National Assembly (the first chamber of parliament) since March 12, following President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s decision to dissolve it before the end of the 2022 legislative mandate.

Early elections are scheduled for June 12, within the framework of a new election law, which was overseen by a committee of experts in public law, and the political class and civil society participated in the discussion and enrichment thereof.

The dissolution of Parliament and the early elections are seen as one of President Tebboune’s election promises, based on “renewal of constitutional institutions” and “separation of money from politics”.

** Article 200

After the legal deadlines for the submission of candidate lists by political parties and independent lists expired, it was the turn of the Independent Electoral Authority on 27 April to subject candidates to the test of the conditions set out in section 200 of the Electoral Act, in particular . the requirement not to be linked to corrupt money.

The article stipulates that a candidate for the Volks National Assembly must comply with the following: “He must be at least 25 years old on the day of voting, have Algerian nationality, and prove that he has performed or exempted national service (army service) is. of it. ”

The candidate must also, according to the same article, “have not been finally sentenced to imprisonment for the commission of an offense or misdemeanor and has not been rehabilitated, with the exception of unintentional misconduct, and his status is determined with regard to the tax administration. ”

And the seventh paragraph of the controversial article emphasizes: “(The candidate) should not be known for his involvement with the suspicious financial and business circles, and his influence, directly or indirectly, on the free choice of voters and the smooth running of the election process. “

This paragraph exceeded the reasons for rejecting the candidates’ files by more than 50 percent, according to the Independent Electoral Authority.

The head of the Algerian electoral authority, Mohamed Charfi, said at a press conference on May 9 that “the link with corrupt money circles and suspicious businesses caused the rejection of 1,199 (partisan and independent) candidates, i.e. 53.4 percent of the reasons for rejection. “

According to the electoral authority’s figures, more than 25,000 candidates were counted for the early elections, competing for 407 seats in the Volks National Assembly.

** The seventh paragraph makes anger explode

The scope of the seventh paragraph of Article 200 aroused the anger of political parties, free candidates and even a number of jurists, given that “its wording is vague and it is difficult to prove what it determines.”

To prove the candidates’ association with corrupt money and suspicious activities, the Independent Electoral Authority relied on investigations conducted by the relevant security authorities.

All those whose files were rejected for this reason appealed to the administrative courts to challenge the decision and demanded that they “provide substantial evidence proving the connection.”

As a result of this clause, a fierce legal battle was opened between the independent government and the political parties, who expressed their fears of exploiting this condition in a “malicious” and “double standards” manner.

The National Liberation Front (formerly the ruling party) is considered to be most affected by this article, which abandoned the candidacy of its secretary general (Abu al-Fadl Baji) and canceled 90 percent of its candidate lists in some states.

The party spoke in a statement a few days ago about “systematically targeting its lists.”

The party added, “its candidates are subject to many grievances by the independent electoral authority,” and accuse the latter of “revenge and hostility in many cases.”

And he believes that the exclusions that have affected his lists are “some of them justified and most of them are suspected of settling local accounts or abusing discretion in the application of the seventh paragraph of Article 200.”

The party’s secretary general, Abu al-Fadl, was disqualified for failing to prove his status as a “national service (military service)”, as revealed by the election official in the capital.

The “National Democratic Rally” party, which was considered the second largest party represented in parliament before its dissolution, also complained about “the injustice suffered by many of its candidates.”

The party said in a statement, “The process of exclusion has continued despite correspondence with the electoral authority, with vague pretexts and sometimes double standards in dealing with similar cases with different decisions and the interpretation of the application of the provisions of the Seventh. paragraph of Article 200. “

He pointed to the “unconstitutionality” of this article, as it could lead to a violation of citizens’ rights, due to “the failure to specify the legal mechanisms that determine these acts, which makes them ambiguous in terms of actual application. “

In turn, the Movement for Peace Society (the largest Islamic party in the country) announced on May 15 that it had rejected the files of 30 candidates in its lists in several states for various reasons, including those related to the issue of the relationship with corrupt money circles.

The movement said in a statement: “The grievances imposed on the dismissed candidates confirm the seriousness of the seventh paragraph of Article 200, according to which we were warned during the presentation of the project.”

And she added: “This loose article, which the Constitutional Council preserves without abandoning it, will remain a deadly remedy for arbitrary interpretations and injustices imposed on citizens for political reasons and hidden interests.”

** The Judges Syndicate objects

The head of the National Union of Algerian Judges, Issad Mabrouk, sided with the parties and candidates, who were dissatisfied with the application of section 200 of the electoral law, especially its seventh paragraph.

Mabrouk, a blogger on Facebook, said earlier this month: “This (the paragraph) is gelatinous in its wording, gelatinous in its applications, in addition to the unconstitutionality of its contents.”

He said the administration and security interests relied on the paragraph “the association with corrupt money circles and suspicious businesses as a basis for making negative remarks towards some candidates, and the Independent Electoral Commission adopted it as a justification for rejecting their files. “

He stated that the Constitutional Council had warned “the suspicion of unconstitutionality of this paragraph” due to the difficulty of its executive formula, and approved its application with respect to Article 34 of the Constitution, which provides equality in political rights and freedoms for citizens. .

Captain Mabrouk called on the judges of the administrative courts to “address the appeals in accordance with the rules of legality for the establishment of an administrative court that protects freedoms instead of protecting the arbitrariness of the administration.”

** Electoral authority responds

The head of the Independent Electoral Authority, Muhammad Sharafi, defended the method for implementing Article 200, with all its provisions, and after its meeting on May 9, with representatives of 16 parties, said that “the administrative courts ratify the rejection decisions of 704 appeals, out of 847 appeals. “

He explained that the state coordinators (at state level) of the electoral authority, “exercised the power of discretion, as judges did in the application of the seventh paragraph of Article 200.”

He stressed not to withdraw the rejection decisions issued against a number of candidates who have been proven to be linked to corrupt money and suspicious cases, but he did not close the door or propose amendments to the electoral law to do more ” clearly “to be applicable. , or to circumvent the recorded loopholes by uniting jurisprudence in the interpretation of its articles.

** political article

Former Algerian lawyer and judge Othmania Khamisi said in an interview with Anadolu Agency that the seventh paragraph of Article 200 is “more political than legal”.

He explained that, “To prove the connection with corrupt money and suspicious cases must be through the presence of judicial decisions or ongoing judicial follow-up, otherwise it will be a vehicle to prevent people from running for rubber reasons that at the situation has been adjusted. “

He went on to say, “How can a person have a relationship with corrupt money and there is no follow-up,” to confirm that this legal text does not have the elements of objectivity, abstraction, and generalization.

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