By Abdulrazzak Abdullah
ALGIERS (AA) - Some 61,000 polling stations across Algeria opened at 8:00 a.m. local time (0700GMT) Thursday for elections to choose a new president after the ouster of longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika eight months ago.
Over 25.5 million eligible voters will cast ballots until 7:00 p.m. (0600GMT), while almost one million expatriate voters started to vote last Saturday along with thousands of nomads who live in remote areas of the desert.
Voters are choosing between five candidates who are described as students of the former regime -- because they were involved with Bouteflika’s reign -- at a time when mass protests escalated demanding the departure of symbols of all Bouteflika's regime and a fundamental change in the government system.
Many have objected to all the candidates’ involvement with the Bouteflika regime.
Among the candidates is Azzedine Mihoubi, 60, former culture minister and interim general secretary of the Democratic National Rally (RND), the successor to former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who was convicted on Tuesday on corruption charges.
Other candidates include Abdelmajid Tebboune, Ali Benflis, Abdelaziz Belaid, and Abdelkader Bengrina.
Algeria has restricted any polls about the elections, which will be organized for the first time by an independent election authority, not the Interior Ministry. Preliminary results are set to be announced on Friday.
*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara