Ed Husain

The Arab Street

Husain examines politics, society, and radicalism in the greater Middle East.

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The Week Ahead: Elections in Algeria and Syria, Egypt’s Presidential Race, Palestinian Prisoners’ Hunger Strike

by Ed Husain
May 7, 2012

Algeria's National Liberation Front leader Abdelaziz Belkhadem attends a parliamentary election campaign rally in Algiers (Louafi Larbi/Courtesy Reuters). Algeria's National Liberation Front leader Abdelaziz Belkhadem attends a parliamentary election campaign rally in Algiers (Louafi Larbi/Courtesy Reuters).

Algeria. Elections for Algeria’s parliament, scheduled for May 10, are being met with cynicism by many Algerians seeking reform. In a country whose leaders are under pressure but have thus far managed to avoid the fate of their regional neighbors, the elections are being heavily promoted by the government as a step in the right direction. While the elections are expected to be free and fair in comparison with decades of rigged polls, voter skepticism and apathy may result in low turnout.

Egypt. The committee overseeing the Egyptian presidential election has invited presidential candidates to a meeting this week to explain voting procedure and discuss points of contention ahead of the elections on May 23 and 24. The latest poll from Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies shows presidential candidate Amr Moussa leading with 39 percent of participants’ votes. Former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh follows with 24.5 percent, then Ahmed Shafiq, the former prime minister, with 17.2 percent. In fourth place is Mohamed Morsy with 7 percent, followed by Hamdeen Sabahi with 6.7 percent. Compared with previous polling data, Morsy and Shafiq appear to be gaining popularity among potential Egyptian voters.

Israel-Palestine. An appeal on behalf of two Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike was rejected by Israel’s high court today. The prisoners, Bilal Diab and Tha’er Halahlah, are under administrative detention and have been on hunger strike for seventy days. The appeal requesting their release was denied on the basis that the two men are a security risk to Israel. The prisoners are in a “life-threatening condition” according to the Israeli organization Physicians for Human Rights.

Syria. Parliamentary elections today in Syria are being touted by the government as evidence it is open to reform, but the outcome is unlikely to have an effect on the ongoing internal crisis. Opposition leaders have criticized the elections as a sham and an “insult to democracy.”

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