Algerians Rebuke Government With Record Low Referendum Turnout

Algerians responded coolly to a package of constitutional reforms that officials put forward to address simmering grievances, with only 23.7% of registered voters bothering to cast ballots in a referendum.

Amid calls for a boycott by opposition groups, turnout was a record low for any ballot in the North African state, Mohamed Charfi, head of the elections authority, said on state television late Sunday. Full results are slated to be released later Monday.

Charfi said concerns about coronavirus kept voters away. But the referendum has been met with disdain by pro-democracy protesters who forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign last year, and have continued their demonstrations since.

Authorities say the proposed amendments address key grievances. Critics contend they give current President Abdelmadjid Tebboune more power and further expand the authority of the powerful military and old guard that support him.

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