Algeria held its first parliamentary election since a 2019 uprising. But the women-led Hirak movement boycotted the vote, citing repression and “old guard” networks.

Algeria’s election authority head Mohamed Chorfi said late on Saturday that the turnout in the country’s parliamentary elections had reached 30.2%.

The vote, earlier in the day, was the first legislative poll since former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika was ousted.

The vote to select 407 parliamentarians for five years was called amid renewed reform protests.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune called the election in February — bringing it forward from 2022 — after returning from medical treatment for COVID-19 in Germany.

Two parties urged boycott

Algerian political parties, formerly in government, urged a big turnout, but two main parties in the Berber Kabylie region issued boycott calls, as did many members of the loosely-knit Hirak protest movement, citing the potential for fraud.

Samir Belarbi, a prominent figure of Hirak, which has long advocated a purge of Algeria’s army-backed elite, said: “elections will not give the regime legitimacy.”

Contesting Saturday’s election was the once-governing National Liberation Front ((FLN), and Islamist parties, split into five factions.

Low turnout

While the government hoped that the vote would turn a page on political unrest amid a crackdown on dissent, a high abstention rate was noticeable, news agencies reported.

At Algiers ballot stations Saturday morning only a trickle of people were seen entering. At Bejaia and Tizi Ouzon in Kabylie most polling stations were closed.