Algerians revise constitution in record low turnout

Voter on an waiving Algeria flag background. 3d illustration.PHOTO/Getty

Algerians approved a revised version of their country’s constitution with two-thirds of votes cast, the electoral commission said Monday, after a record low turnout in a referendum.

The revised text passed with 66.8 percent of votes, on a record low turnout of just 23.7 percent, according to the electoral commission.

The vote on Sunday was widely seen as a regime maneuver to neutralize the Hirak protest movement, which at its peak had toppled long-time president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The Hirak had called for a boycott of a vote on the document, largely dismissed by constitutional experts.

Fewer than 15 percent of eligible voters had endorsed the document, he said.

“The new version of the text doesn’t change much compared to the old constitution,” said Cherif Driss, a political science professor at the University of Algiers.

The poll took place in the absence of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who is hospitalised overseas and widely suspected to have COVID-19.

Tebboune himself took office after a December election with a turnout of just under 40 percent, the lowest in a presidential vote since independence from France in 1962.

That followed months of Hirak protests calling for a full overhaul of Algeria’s ruling system.