Source: BBC News

Algerian political parties have agreed to show female candidates' faces after some posters displayed blank avatars instead, the state news agency says. Parties in Bordj Bou Arreridj Province had been showing hijabs surrounding blank spaces alongside photos of male candidates. On Tuesday the election authorities gave parties two days to display photos or be removed from the vote. An official said the practice was illegal.

"This kind of encroachment is dangerous; it is not legal and it opposes all laws and traditions," said Hassan Noui of the Independent High Authority for Election Monitoring (HIISE).

"It is every citizen's right to know whom he will vote for."

He said at least five parties including the Socialist Forces Front (FFS) had not been showing female candidates' faces on posters. The blank images have prompted debate inside Algeria. One candidate, Fatma Tirbakh, from the National Front for Social Justice party in the eastern Ouargla Province, appeared as a blank female avatar on Ennahar TV to discuss the issue.

Female faces blanked out on official campaign posters

"Displaying my photo is important, I believe. But I come from a southern region. Honestly speaking, it is hugely conservative... it is because of this that my own photo is not used," she said.

"In all honesty, the family did force me not to show my photo on TV. But they do not have a problem with my face being on a poster," she said. However no one in her family had a problem with her working as a politician representing people in parliament, she added.

Parties are obliged to field female candidates under a 2012 law requiring women to make up between 20% and 50% of candidates on electoral lists. FFS official Hassen Ferli blamed the party's communications team in Bordj Bou Arreridj for the "regrettable" posters.

"The FFS vigorously condemns this practice which is incompatible with the party's values," he said in a statement carried on local media. The party was committed to equality between men and women, the statement said.

Algeria is not the only country in which women running for parliament have had their faces concealed on election posters. In the 2011/2012 Egyptian parliamentary polls, Salafist parties used the image of a flower instead of the female candidates' actual photos.

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