Algeria's Constitutional Council said Sunday that two candidates have registered for the country's disputed July 4 presidential election, hours after public radio reported that a deadline had passed without any candidates. The poll is strongly opposed by protesters who reject any vote held under authorities they say are tarnished by corruption from the rule of ousted leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
But Algeria's rulers have been determined to hold the ballot on July 4, seeing it as the only way out of a crisis that forced Bouteflika to quit in April after weeks of protests. The deadline for registration passed at midnight on Saturday. The Constitutional Council said in a statement that it had received the files of two candidates, Abdelhakim Hamadi and Hamid Touahri, both unknown figures. No major party has nominated a candidate. A number of political parties announced they were freezing their candidacy in the elections, siding with protesters who have been calling for postponing the vote over fears of fraud.
Another obstacle to a July 4 election is that some mayors and magistrates have said they would not take part in organizing the polls. Amid the confusion over the candidacies, the El Watan newspaper said on its website it was now "highly likely" that the election would be postponed.
Algerians took to the streets to rally against Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in polls initially scheduled for April. The demonstrations swelled and spread nationwide, with protesters calling for a broad overhaul of the political system following the president's departure. The arrest of more than half a dozen prominent businessmen seen as close to the presidential "clan" has largely failed to appease protesters, who continue to take to the streets demanding a complete overhaul of the political system.