29 November 2012

Algeria Boosts Security for Elections

Algiers — More than 200,000 security personnel are on high alert for Algeria's November 29th local elections.

Algerians head to polling stations on Thursday (November 29th) to elect the 1,541 new communal popular assemblies (APCs) and the 48 wilaya assemblies (APWs) on a five-year mandate.

The elections put security services on high alert on Wednesday. The security arrangements introduced during the legislative elections back on May 10th were re-imposed to counter any possible unexpected disruption to the local elections.

The government deployed more than 200,000 police officers to maintain public order and keep channels of communication open to ensure the smooth running of the local elections. Roadblocks have been set up on the main routes entering towns and cities, particularly in Algiers.

There is also a state of high alert along the borders, particularly the southern frontier with Mali, where security is extremely sensitive. While planning security arrangements, particular attention has been focussed on the so-called "buffer" areas, namely Kabylie and areas on the southern border.

In Kabylie, and particularly the wilayas of Tizi Ouzou and Boumerdès, a stronghold for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the security arrangements are the same as those introduced for the May 10th legislative elections.

The security contingent in wilayas of concern increased the number of officers on the street by 50% for the election, according to General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) communications director Djilai Bousalia.

"Human resources and equipment have been mobilised to secure the voting process in isolated areas of the national territory," according to the leadership of the National Gendarmerie (CGN).

The interior ministry announced new measures on November 27th affecting travel and transport, opening times for markets and sporting and cultural activities, in order to guarantee the smooth running of the local elections.

Where travel and transport are concerned, all movements of heavy vehicles carrying goods are suspended between midnight on November 28th and 6am on November 30th.

"Due to deteriorating weather conditions, the [ministry] wishes to announce that measures banning the circulation of goods vehicles over the period of the local elections on Thursday November 29th will not apply to the transport and delivery of fuel and gas," the ministry said.

The ministry also announced the closure of weekly markets for the same period, with an exception being granted to daily fruit and vegetable markets.

Sporting and cultural events scheduled to take place between the night of November 28th and November 30th at 6am will be rescheduled.

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