Polls have opened in Algeria for parliamentary election which the authorities have billed as the fairest in 20 years, but the opposition has called for its boycott. Nearly 22 million Algerians are eligible to vote on Thursday for 44 political parties competing for 462 seats in a member assembly. Some 500 international observers from the EU, African Union, Arab League and American organizations are scattered across the more than 48,000 polling stations in the country to monitor the election. The country's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has hailed the election as the dawn of a new era, promising the new assembly will have a say in rewriting the constitution. After last year's "Arab Spring" uprisings in neighboring countries that left Algeria largely untouched, Bouteflika called for political reforms and approved the establishment of 23 new political parties in the oil-rich country, while increasing the number of seats in the parliament. However, the opposition has accused the government of trying to tighten its grip on power, and has called for a boycott of the polls. The current parliament is dominated by the National Liberation Front, headed by Bouteflika, and the National Democratic Rally (RND).