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Voting ends as Algerians protest against presidential election

Voting ends as Algerians protest against presidential election

Polls closed on Thursday as Algeria’s presidential election with five candidates, which was opposed by a large protest movement, came to an end. Preliminary results are expected on Friday, with official results later this month and a possible second-round run-off in early January.

Thousands of people took to the streets in Algiers and other cities earlier in the day. In the capital, police rushed the crowd with sticks to disperse the marchers, but fell back as more protesters arrived, Reuters reports.

The military-backed government sees the vote as the only way to end 10 months of unrest that brought down veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April. The demonstrators say no vote to replace him can be legitimate while the old guard still holds sway.

Officials said that 33 percent of registered voters had cast ballots by 16:00 GMT, two hours before polls closed.