ALGIERS // The European Union mission in Algeria to monitor today's legislative polls will not be given access to the national voters registry, a government official said.
The national roll contains "personal and confidential information whose release is banned under Algerian law", a foreign affairs official told El-Moudjahid newspaper on condition of anonymity.
The diplomat was responding to repeated demands by the head of the EU mission, Jose Ignacio Salafranca, who said on Monday it would be preferable if his team had access to the national roll.
Amid widespread suspicion of fraud by the regime, observers will only be granted access to registries at the regional level.
"The European observation mission, just like other observation missions ... needs to pursue its work in a discerning, impartial, objective and discreet way," the Algerian diplomat said.
A total of 500 observers - from the Arab League, EU, African Union and American organisations - will be scattered across the more than 48,000 polling stations in Africa's largest country.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika invited foreign observers for the polls, which he has billed as the "dawn of a new era" and come after reforms initiated after Arab Spring uprisings.
On Tuesday, the leader of an Islamist party contesting the election said he feared fraud, arguing that the current voters roll represented 65 per cent of the population, a higher rate than usual.
Turnout hit a record low of 35 per cent during the 2007 parliamentary polls and, after a three-week campaign which saw all parties fail to draw large crowds, many Algerians predict the real turnout today will slump even lower.