ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria’s electoral authority says 23 candidates have qualified for the North African country’s controversial presidential vote on Dec 12.

The election comes eight months after strongman former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in the spring after months of mass protests. Since then, power in Algeria has been concentrated around Army Chief Ahmed Gaid Salah.

Candidates must have backing of at least 50,000 people and submissions end at midnight Saturday.

The candidates include former ministers or political party leaders, such as former Prime Minister Ali Benflis. Many who qualified already participated in previous presidential elections. A former popular television host Slimane Bakhlili also qualified.

Activists on social media have called for protesters to reject the vote, fearing that it will not be transparent or fair.