Voter disinterest increases in Algerian slums

Algerian residents from the poorer slum areas say they find no reason to vote in this week’s elections as they feel promises are not being kept by the government and their current situations have not improved.

Hidden behind the cluster of tall buildings in Algeria’s capital Algeirs, are one of the many slums in Algeria, home to hundreds of families.

The residents in an area known as the “Civil Concord District” see no reason to participate in the legislative elections.

The slums’ narrow alleyways are home to hundreds of families who share small accommodations along with their children and other relatives.

"Do you want me to vote? Who should I vote for? Just tell me who?,” said 41-year-old Gacem Rabeh, who has been living in the slum for over 15 years.

"Too many candidates have come here and promised to do many things for us, but once they get our votes - we don't hear from them again. We need the politicians to get us out of here, from this neighborhood, because we are fed up of living here. We have endured 15 years of this already," he added.

Mohammed, another slum resident, has said he has not been convinced by any of the candidates other than President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The families living in the slums have all come from different paths; some who were born into such poverty, while others sought shelter in the area after decades of violence.

The government has been working on relocating many of the slum residents into free housing, however progress has taken longer than expected, leaving many frustrated with the wait.

Khadija, a mother of three, says she shares one bedroom with her husband and children.

"I don't have any space for our clothes," said 29-year old Khadija. "It is too tiny and too humid, so all our clothes smell because of the humidity.”
Following the recent Arab Spring unrest sweeping neighboring countries, Algeria finds itself under pressure to follow its neighbors, in the hope for genuine democratic change.

According to Algerian authorities, the parliamentary elections on Thursday are expecting push towards a more democratic state, but many Algerians continue to believe otherwise.

This year’s election has witnessed an increase in parties competing from the last two decades and the European Union for the first time has been invited to monitor the vote.

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