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By Kaci Racelma (Algiers, Algeria)

4/17/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

U.S., Algeria hope to revive economic ties on eve of presidential election

United States Secretary of State John Kerry made a two-day visit to Algiers on the second and third day of April. Kerry touched down in the African nation for strategic dialogue between the U.S. and Algeria. Viewed as an important opportunity to revive economic ties between the two countries, it also presented an opportunity for Algeria\'s more marginalized citizens to voice their concerns.

Candidates point out that fraud will play a large part in Algeria's presidential election.

Candidates point out that fraud will play a large part in Algeria's presidential election.

Highlights

By Kaci Racelma (Algiers, Algeria)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/17/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Secretary of State John Kerry, Algeria, elections


ALGIERS, ALGERIA (Catholic Online) - "Since you will have the privilege to meet Algerian President Bouteflika, will you please let him know something from one of his citizens," an open letter from Reporters Without Borders, published in the country's daily French language newspaper, addressed to Kerry asks.

"Does he know that his citizens are sad and anxious? After 15 years of hard work, a cerebro-vascular accident has left him unable to walk and talk without difficulty. Does he know that they are many of his citizens who disagree with him and his candidates?

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"Citizens have been arrested for peacefully protesting his policies. Protestors have been arrested and molested by police."

The letter adds, "We would also like to ask you to raise the crucial issue of freedom of information during your talks with your Algerian counterpart, Ramtane Lamamra."

This state visit from the U.S. secretary of state   is seen by some politicians as one of opportunism.

Ali Fawzi Rebaine, one of the candidates amid the presidential election campaign asks, "Do you think that the visit of Kerry to Algeria is fortuitous? This visit comes at a crucial moment when U.S.A. wants its part of the pie."

Other candidates point out that fraud will play a large part in Algeria's presidential election.

The elderly and infirm 77-year-old incumbent, Abdelaziz Bouteflika is controversially seeking a fourth term. Freedom of expression is the focal point amidst Human Right organizations, who say that free speech raises the danger of imprisonment.

"Law 11-14 of 2 August 2011 decriminalized defamation of government officials by amending articles 144 (b) and 146 of the criminal code. Similarly, Law 12-05 on information abolished prison sentences for media offenses.

"This should have ended the threat to journalists posed by articles 144 (b), 146 and 77 to 99 of the criminal code, but the fines are disproportionate and articles 296 and 298 of the criminal code maintain prison sentences for defaming individuals. While judicial proceedings against journalists or media may be slowed down or even 'forgotten,' the threat of a judicial decision subsequently emerging constitutes a threat that forces journalists to censor themselves," writes Reporter Without Borders in its statement.

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