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Algerian voters shun referendum aimed at ending political crisis

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Fewer than one in four Algerian voters took part in Sunday’s constitutional referendum, officials said, despite government efforts to encourage high turnout as part of a strategy to turn the page on last year’s political unrest.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and the powerful military had presented the new constitution as a sign that they had addressed the causes of public anger that prompted mass weekly protests for more than a year.

The referendum result will be announced on Monday at 10 a.m. (0900 GMT).

However, Sunday’s turnout of only 23.7%, according to the election body, showed lacklustre backing for a vote that many members of the “Hirak” street protest movement had decried as a sham intended to quash their movement.

The global pandemic may have also constrained voting, with Algeria recording more than 300 new cases on Saturday.

Days before the vote, Tebboune was admitted to a hospital in Germany after saying aides had tested positive for COVID-19 and a cartoon in el Watan newspaper showed a man in a polling booth looking at ballots marked in German rather than Arabic.

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