Pakistan Court Sentences Former Ruler Musharraf to Death for Treason

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Pakistan Court Sentences Former Ruler Musharraf to Death for Treason

Tuesday, 17 December, 2019 – 11:00
A supporter holds a picture of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, during a protest at the Special Court where Musharraf will attend his trial in Islamabad February 18, 2014. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

A Pakistani court sentenced on Tuesday former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to death on charges of high treason and subverting the constitution, government officials said.

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and later ruled as president, is not in Pakistan and was not available for comment on the sentence, handed down by an anti-terrorism court hearing the high treason case.

“Pervez Musharraf has been found guilty of Article 6 for violation of the constitution of Pakistan,” government law officer Salman Nadeem said, according to Reuters.

The court’s full ruling was not available but it said in a summary it had analyzed complaints, records, arguments and facts in the case and had reached a majority verdict, with two of the three judges giving the decision against Musharraf.

The charges stem from Musharraf’s imposition of a state of emergency in 2007, when he was facing growing opposition to his rule.

He resigned in 2008, after a political party that backed him fared poorly in a general election, and he has spent much of the time since then abroad.

Legal experts in Islamabad said Musharraf can challenge the order in the High Court.

Turkey Has No Problem with Syria’s Kurds, Says Defense Minister

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Turkey Has No Problem with Syria’s Kurds, Says Defense Minister

Monday, 16 December, 2019 – 11:15
An aerial view of displaced children in the middle of the Kilis border refugee camp with Turkey after heavy rains. AFP file photo
Ankara – Saeed Abdelrazek
Ankara does not have a problem with Kurds, but rather terrorist organizations, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has affirmed.

Turkey’s commitment to fighting terrorist organizations such as ISIS, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated by Ankara as a terror group, and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the largest component of the Syrian Democratic Forces that Turkey considers an extension of PKK in Syria, and others, has not changed.

“We don’t have any problems with Kurds or any other ethnicity,” Akar said in a speech delivered Sunday at the 19th Doha Forum held in Qatar.

“Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria is a counter-terrorism effort and does not target a specific ethnicity.”

He noted that the world is going through a sensitive stage, in which risks and parties threatening international relations have increased.

Extremist groups pose a threat not only to their own countries but also to the international community, Akar stressed, adding that every weapon given to the YPG was transferred to the PKK to target Turkey.

Turkey is ready to hold talks and cooperate with all parties that wish to spread peace and security in the world, he said.

Akar further noted that Turkey is one of the states most affected by terrorism and is now facing several terrorist organizations that pose a direct threat to its security and stability.

Ankara does not seek to change the demographic structure in the region or get involved in an ethnic cleansing of Kurds, Akar said, referring to the Operation Peace Spring launched in October 9 to eliminate Kurdish fighters from northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River.

He said the operation also aims at securing Turkey’s borders, aiding in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensuring Syria’s territorial integrity.

Turkey only aims to protect all civilians regardless of their ethnic background, the region and the civilian infrastructure in Syria, Akar added.

Meanwhile, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani described the role of his country, Turkey and Russia in resolving the Syrian crisis as “very important.”

He made his remarks at the 12th Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) meeting in the southern Turkish city of Antalya.

The three countries sponsor the Astana talks for a political solution in Syria as guarantor countries despite the differences in their goals.

Home-Cooked Food in Iraqi Square Brings Protesters Together

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Home-Cooked Food in Iraqi Square Brings Protesters Together

Sunday, 15 December, 2019 – 11:30
In this photo taken Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, a volunteer chef prepares rice to be served to Iraqi protesters as part of a free meal, at the center of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
In Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, there are the anti-government protesters demonstrating for a better future for Iraq, and there are the volunteers who feed them.

From stuffed lamb and fish, to the giant pots of soups and rice, to the plates of lentils and other beans, there is no shortage of food to go around. Volunteers from the capital and southern provinces cook traditional dishes that reflect the country’s rich cuisine and bring protesters together, reported The Associated Press.

Tahrir Square has been the focal point for the protests that have continued to roil Iraq since Oct. 1. The spontaneous, leaderless demonstrations were organized on social media over long-standing grievances including government corruption, unemployment and a lack of basic services. For many, the square in central Baghdad has become a miniature model for the kind of state they dream of, where factional and sectarian politics play no part and public services exist.

Services, including the near-constant supply of food, have been integral to keeping people in the square, but volunteers are eyeing a gradual drop in donations with concern.

Iraqis are used to communal meals and many volunteer food. Every year, during the annual Shiite religious commemoration known as Arbaeen, volunteers prepare food for pilgrims making their way to the city of Karbala. Shortly after the protests started Oct. 1, volunteers began setting up similar tents to cook and distribute traditional Iraqi dishes for the protesters in and around Tahrir Square.

“We make it for the hungry people, and people in need here in Tahrir Square,” said a woman who gave her name as Um Ammar, which means “Ammar’s mother.” She is from the southern province of Missan and was cooking Seyah, a thick mixture of rice flour and water fried on a hot plate.

Other popular dishes are lentils and beans; Tepsy, a traditional Iraqi casserole; Dolma, consisting of stuffed cabbage and grape leaves, onions and aubergines cooked in tomato sauce; and Makhlama, a mixture of potato, tomatoes, onion and egg all fried together and put in bread. It is a favorite breakfast for people in Baghdad.

“It is an old Baghdadi (dish). It is common in the morning. All the Iraqi people, but specifically the people of Baghdad, love this food,” said Muhsin Salman, a cook from the capital who was making Makhlama.

Arouk bread — a tandoor bread made of dough mixed with celery and spices — is another favorite.
And there are the popular sweets: Hareesa is boiled whole wheat sweetened with sugar and cinnamon. Cherek is baked wheat flour bread stuffed with dates. And there’s also the fried dough balls called Awamah.

On any given day, people can be seen lining up to fill plastic dishes with food. Protesters say the free food is important to help sustain the protest movement, especially for those who cannot afford to eat meat on a regular basis. But it’s not the main attraction, they say.

Hashem al-Jabouri said that after more than two months of protests, he’s worried that support for the movement is dwindling. Speaking as he fried falafel in a huge pot, he said support was not as strong as it was in the beginning. “There’s a lot of pressure and threats targeting the volunteers,” he said.

At least 400 people have been killed at the hands of security forces and unidentified assailants firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the demonstrations since the protests erupted in October. A string of targeted assassinations, forced disappearances and arrests of civil activists and journalists have also fostered fear among protesters.

Some said they will not be intimidated.

“I distribute food to my protester brothers. We will not retreat even if they kill or threaten us. We don’t care,” said Um Mohammed, who was cooking rice and beans on a recent day. Her husband was killed in Iraq’s sectarian conflict in 2006.

“I am a martyr’s wife, but it is OK,” said the mother of four. “I am not retreating and will not leave the square. My house is here now, until they give me my rights.”

Saudi-Chinese Talks to Discuss Linking Arabian Gulf with Red Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi-Chinese Talks to Discuss Linking Arabian Gulf with Red Sea

Friday, 13 December, 2019 – 11:15
Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi Ministry of Transport has revealed that talks are underway with a company owned by the Chinese government to discuss linking the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea through Saudi lands.

It is part of a giant project the Kingdom seeks implementing as part of its strategic plans in transport and logistics.

Saudi Arabia plans to launch public-private partnership (PPP) transport projects worth tens of billions of dollars in 2020, under an ambitious strategy to diversify the economy and create jobs, the newly appointed transport minister told Reuters.

To reduce dependence on oil revenues, Riyadh aims to have the private sector operate much of its transport infrastructure, including airports and sea ports, with the government keeping a role as regulator.

The government expects real economic growth of 2.3 percent next year, supported by non-oil sectors.

“Saudi Arabia has an impressive transportation and logistics infrastructure, where about SAR400 billion ($106.7 billion) have been invested in the last 10 years only,” Minister Saleh bin Nasser al-Jasser noted.

He explained that the plan is to continue investing while increasing private sector participation.

The ministry is also planning a railway project linking Dammam in the Eastern Province to the Red Sea city of Jeddah through the capital, he was quoted as saying.

“The funding will come through the private sector, either through PPP or government-to-government…these are big projects worth tens of billions of riyals.”

Riyadh has set a goal of generating SAR35 billion to 40 billion ($9.3 billion to $10.0 billion) of non-oil state revenues from its privatization program by 2020.

Some of that money would come from asset sales, while the rest would come from public-private partnerships.

The transportation sector is one of the National Industrial Development and Logistics Vision Realization Program’s (NIDLP) pillars.

This program aims to transform the Kingdom into a leading industrial hub and an international logistic platform in a number of promising areas.

This would contribute to generating ample job opportunities for Saudi cadres, enhancing the trade balance and maximizing local content.

It focuses on four main sectors, namely industry, mining, energy and logistics.

In March, a Saudi official told Reuters that six public-private partnership deals worth around $3.5 billion were sealed in Q1 2019 and at least 23 more are expected by 2022.

Houthi Projectiles Land on Hospital in Jazan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Houthi Projectiles Land on Hospital in Jazan

Wednesday, 11 December, 2019 – 12:45
Al-Harath General Hospital. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi civil defense teams received on Tuesday several complaints that projectiles, fired by the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, had landed on a hospital in Jazan.

General Directorate of Civil Defense spokesman in Jazan, Yehya al-Qahtani, said the projectiles hit the al-Harath General Hospital and civilian infrastructure near the facility.

No one was injured.

The outer fence surrounding the hospital was damaged in the incident, Qahtani added.

Protesters in South Lebanon Stand Up to Attack, Threats

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Protesters in South Lebanon Stand Up to Attack, Threats

Tuesday, 10 December, 2019 – 10:45
Demonstrators wave Lebanese flags during a protest in Tripoli, Lebanon, November 2, 2019. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic/File Photo
Beirut- Hanan Hamdan
Five years ago, the former Moukhtar [local head, selected for simple administrative tasks] of the town of Qulaila in South Lebanon, Mahmoud Saleh, could not find anyone to pay for his treatment when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. This forced him to incur the cost of removing one of his kidneys, which amounted to 18,000 US dollars at the time, although he could not afford it.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Saleh said: “We took to public squares because of the difficult economic situation. Our politicians are responsible for this situation, and we are still here because they refuse to meet a single one of our demands. Those in power have clung to it for many years without even considering giving us our basic rights. We do not even have healthcare or pensions; instead, they have drowned us with debt.”

Protesters in Tyre, a city in south Lebanon, have been a vital part of the protest movement since it first erupted in October. They were met with repression, and the most prominent of which was when they were assaulted by partisans and had their tents destroyed at the Al-Alam Square. However, the scene hasn’t changed in the past few days, save the erection of new tents to the square, and the addition of a large tent meant to protect protesters from the rain, allowing them to continue to hold their debates and lectures. The square is also equipped with plastic chairs, mobile mattresses, and stoves to make tea and coffee.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Hassan Darwish, one of the young people who maintain a constant presence in the square, says: “The uprising in Tyre has not changed, and people’s determination has not been shaken. The people of Tyre will not leave the squares just like that, and we will persist until our demands are met”.

He points to the fact that internal debates are still being held at the square daily and that civil society initiatives are also ongoing. He also says that a new tent will soon be installed near the square “to support anyone in need by providing them with clothes and food. The basic idea behind it is that it will be accessible to every household and person. We have launched this symbolic initiative because of the difficult living conditions some of us in Tyre arrived at, with the minimum wage standing around 600,000 Lebanese pounds (400$ at the official rate but effectively much less). This isn’t enough for people to secure their basic needs”.

2 Turkish Soldiers Killed while Defusing Bomb

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

2 Turkish Soldiers Killed while Defusing Bomb

Monday, 9 December, 2019 – 12:15
A Turkish soldier walks next to a Turkish military vehicle during a joint US-Turkey patrol, near Tel Abyad, Syria September 8, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Asharq Al-Awsat
At least two Turkish soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded on Monday while attempting to defuse an improvised explosive device, officials said.

The device exploded in a village near the town of Idil, in the mainly-Kurdish populated Sirnak province, according to a statement from the regional governor’s office.

The explosive device was planted by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, The Associated Press quoted the governor’s office as saying.

The statement didn’t provide further details but said Turkey’s operations to combat the PKK were continuing with “determination.”

There was no word on the wounded soldiers’ conditions.

The PKK, which is considered a terror organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has been waging an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since then.

In October, Turkey invaded areas of northeast Syria in a bid to drive Syrian Kurdish fighters away from its border. Turkey says the Syrian Kurdish fighters are linked to the PKK and has been infuriated by Western nations’ support to the group.

Lebanon´s Journalists Suffer Abuse, Threats in Covering Unrest

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SAUDI ARABIA’S ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Lebanon´s Journalists Suffer Abuse, Threats in Covering Unrest

Saturday, 7 December, 2019 – 12:30
In this Friday Oct. 18, 2019 photo, Lebanese reporter Joyce Akiki, left, runs from tear gas during an anti-government protest, in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat
Lebanese journalists are facing threats and wide-ranging harassment in their work – including verbal insults and physical attacks, even death threats – while reporting on nearly 50 days of anti-government protests, despite Lebanon´s reputation as a haven for free speech in a troubled region.

Nationwide demonstrations erupted on Oct. 17 over a plunging economy. They quickly grew into calls for sweeping aside Lebanon´s entire ruling elite. Local media outlets – some of which represent the sectarian interests protesters are looking to overthrow – are now largely seen as pro- or anti-protests, with some journalists feeling pressured to leave their workplaces over disagreements about media coverage.

The deteriorating situation for journalists in Lebanon comes despite its decades-old reputation for being an island of free press. Amid Lebanon´s divided politics, media staff have usually had wide range to freely express their opinions.

The acts of harassment began early in the protests. MTV television reporter Nawal Berry was attacked in central Beirut in the first days of the demonstrations by supporters of the militant group Hezbollah and its allies. They smashed the camera, robbed the microphone she was holding, spat on her and kicked her in the leg.

“How is it possible that a journalist today goes to report and gets subjected to beating and humiliation? Where are we? Lebanon is the country of freedoms and democracy,” Berry told The Associated Press.

Outlets like MTV are widely seen as backing protesters´ demands that Lebanon´s sectarian political system be completely overturned to end decades of corruption and mismanagement.

Rival TV stations and newspapers portray the unrest – which led to the Cabinet´s resignation over a month ago – as playing into the hands of alleged plots to undermine Hezbollah and its allies. Many of those outlets are run by Hezbollah, President Michel Aoun´s Free Patriotic Movement, and the Amal Movement of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. These media regularly blast protesters for closing roads and using other civil disobedience tactics, describing them as “bandits.”

For Berry, the media environment worsened as the unrest continued. On the night of Nov. 24, while she was covering clashes between protesters and Hezbollah and Amal supporters on a central road in Beirut, supporters of the Shiite groups chased her into a building. She hid there until police came and escorted her out.

“I was doing my job and will continue to do so. I have passed through worse periods and was able to overcome them,” said Berry, who added she is taking a short break from working because of what she passed through recently.

Hezbollah supporters also targeted Dima Sadek, who resigned last month as an anchorwoman at LBC TV. She blamed Hezbollah supporters for robbing her smartphone while she was filming protests, and said the harassment was followed by insulting and threatening phone calls to her mother, who suffered a stroke as a result of the stress.

“I have taken a decision (to be part of the protests) and I am following it. I have been waiting for this moment all my life and I have always been against the political, sectarian, and corrupt system in Lebanon,” said Sadek, a harsh critic of Hezbollah, adding that she has been subjected to cyber-bullying for the past four years.

“I know very well that this will have repercussions on my personal and professional life. I will go to the end no matter what the price is,” Sadek said shortly after taking part in a demonstration in central Beirut.

Protesters have also targeted journalists reporting with what are seen as pro-government outlets. OTV station workers briefly removed their logos from equipment while covering on the demonstrations to avoid verbal and physical abuse. The station is run by supporters of Aoun´s FPM.

“The protest movement has turned our lives upside down,” said OTV journalist Rima Hamdan, who during one of her reports slapped a man on his hand after he pointed his middle finger at her. She said the station´s logo “is our identity even though sometimes we had to remove it for our own safety.”

Television reporters with Hezbollah´s Al-Manar and Amal´s NBN channels were also attacked in a town near Beirut, when they were covering the closure of the highway linking the capital city with southern Lebanon by protesters. In a video, an NBN correspondent is seen being attacked, while troops and policemen stand nearby without intervening.

“This happens a lot in Lebanon because some media organizations are politicized. No one sees media organizations as they are but sees them as representing the political group that owns them,” said Ayman Mhanna, director of the Beirut-based media watchdog group SKeyes.

“The biggest problem regarding these violations is that there is no punishment,” Mhanna said. Authorities usually fail to act even when they identify those behind attacks on journalists, he added.

Coverage of the protests also led to several journalists resigning from one of Lebanon´s most prominent newspapers, Al-Akhbar, which is seen as close to Hezbollah, and the pan-Arab TV station Al-Mayadeen, which aligns closely with the policies of Iran, Syria, and Venezuela.

Joy Slim, who quit as culture writer at Al-Akhbar after more than five years, said she did so after being “disappointed” with the daily´s coverage of the demonstrations. She released a video widely circulated on social media that ridiculed those who accuse the protesters of being American agents.

Sami Kleib, a prominent Lebanese journalist with a wide following around the Middle East, resigned from Al-Mayadeen last month. He said the reason behind his move was that he was “closer to the people than the authorities.”

“The Lebanese media is similar to politics in Lebanon where there is division between two axes: One that supports the idea of conspiracy theory, and another that fully backs the protest movement with its advantages and disadvantages,” Kleib said.

Saudi Arabia Underlines Harmony with UAE for Interests of their People, Region

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia Underlines Harmony with UAE for Interests of their People, Region

Tuesday, 3 December, 2019 – 12:15
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz presides over a cabinet meeting in Riyadh. (SPA)
Asharq Al-Awsat

The Saudi cabinet hailed on Tuesday the visit paid to the United Arab Emirates last week by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz chaired the cabinet meeting that was held in Riyadh.

The ministers stressed that the Crown Prince’s visit underscored the harmony between Saudi Arabia and the UAE in achieving the interests of their people and bolstering development in the region.

They hailed the meeting of the Saudi-UAE coordination council, which was held in Abu Dhabi during the Saudi royal’s visit.

Crown Prince Mohammed had met during his trip with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The Saudi cabinet also welcomed the Kingdom’s assuming of the presidency of the G20 as it prepares to host next year’s summit in November. It welcomed the launch of Saudi Arabia’s preparations to host the global event at the directives of King Salman and the follow-up of Crown Prince Mohammed.

Saudi Arabia is committed to continuing the work that kicked off during the 2019 summit in Osaka as it seeks to achieve tangible accomplishments and benefit from Saudi Arabia’s unique location between three continents.

Moreover, the cabinet welcomed Gulf rulers and royals as Riyadh prepares to host next week the 40th Gulf Cooperation Council summit.

Discussions will focus on bolstering Gulf relations in all fields and tackling political and security regional and international developments.

The cabinet then reviewed a number of regional and international developments, underlining that the Palestinian cause will remain the Kingdom’s priority until the Palestinian people achieve all of their rights, starting with the establishment of an independent state.

Riyadh rejected any measures aimed at undermining the historic and legal status of the holy city of Jerusalem and attempts to Judaize it by Israel. It called on the international community to assume its responsibilities in protecting the Palestinian people against Israeli practices.

Algeria´s Presidential Campaign Marred by,Protests, Apathy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Algeria´s Presidential Campaign Marred by,Protests, Apathy

Sunday, 1 December, 2019 – 12:45
In this Oct. 18, 2019, file photo, Algerians take part in a protest against the government in Algiers. Algeria’s presidential campaign is in trouble. Candidates are struggling to fill rally venues, two campaign chiefs have quit, voters have pelted candidates’ headquarters with tomatoes and eggs, and a 9-month-old pro-democracy movement calls the whole thing a sham. Poster reads “An illegitimate Government that decides the Future of the Country.” (AP Photo/Toutik Doudou, File)
Algiers- Asharq Al-Awsat
Algeria´s presidential campaign is in trouble. Candidates are struggling to fill rally venues, campaign managers have quit, voters have pelted campaign headquarters with tomatoes and eggs, and the country´s 9-month-old pro-democracy movement calls the whole thing a sham.

The five candidates seeking to replace President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the Dec. 12 election have failed to captivate a disillusioned public. Bouteflika was pushed out in April after 20 years in power amid an exceptional, peaceful protest movement, and now demonstrators want a wholesale change of political leadership.

Instead, the election is managed by the long-serving power structure of this oil- and gas-rich country with a strategic role in the Mediterranean region. Instead of new faces, two of the candidates are former prime ministers and one is a loyalist of Algeria´s influential army chief.

The Hirak protest movement held their 41st weekly demonstrations Friday, denouncing the presidential election. But for the first time, thousands of pro-government supporters held their own rally Saturday.

The candidates have tried to convince voters that taking part in the election is the only alternative to chaos, an allusion to the civil war that ravaged Algeria in the 1990s. But that argument falls flat among the protesters, who have been overwhelmingly peaceful, with demonstrators calming each other down and ensuring that no one provokes police. It´s a sharp contrast to the sometimes deadly protests and security crackdowns shaking Iraq, Lebanon, and other countries in recent weeks.

Former Prime Minister Ali Benflis, considered a leading candidate, was heckled in Tlemcen, Guelma, Oued Souf, Annaba, while he had to cancel a meeting altogether in Maghnia on Algeria´s western edge.

His campaign director in the important region of Kabylie resigned, citing pressure from his family. Many in Kabylie oppose holding the election at all.

Candidate Abdelamdjid Tebboune, considered the candidate of army chief Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, had to cancel his first rally in Algiers because not enough people signed up.

His campaign manager also resigned, without explanation. And then one of his leading campaign funders was jailed on corruption charges.

Another candidate, Abdelakder Bengrina, began his campaign on the esplanade of the central post office in Algiers – the emblematic site of the protest movement. He had to interrupt his speech to dive into his car under police cover to escape a crowd of angry demonstrators. The portrait on the balcony of his campaign headquarters has been bombarded with eggs and tomatoes.

Many poster boards around Algiers meant to hold candidates´ portraits remain empty. In other sites, Algerians have covered the portraits with garbage bags and signs reading “candidates of shame.”

In some towns of the Kabylie region, protesters have blocked access to campaign offices by piling the entrances with bricks.

Tensions mounted last week when Algerians started holding evening marches to denounce the elections. Several demonstrators were arrested, and some have already been convicted to prison terms for disturbing election campaigns or destruction of public property, according to protest organizers.

Given troubles in the capital and Kabylie, the candidates are focusing on small campaign events in areas where the protest movement is less active.

The president of the body overseeing the election, Moahamed Charfi, has minimized the campaign troubles, saying the candidates are “accepted by the population.”

Army chief Gaid Salah has yet to publicly acknowledge the problems either, instead praising Algerians in a recent speech for “the adherence of the people around their army, chanting, with one voice, patriotic slogans expressing their collective the will to head massively to the polls on December 12, in order to make the presidential election succeed and thus contribute to build a promising future.”

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent in the first round, the election goes to a second round in the ensuing weeks.