Algeria | News & Updates

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Massive protest against Algeria elite
by Reuters -
29th Apr 2019

Hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding departure of Algeria’s ruling elite rallied peacefully in Algiers for a tenth consecutive Friday.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down after 20 years in power earlier this month, bowing to pressure from the army and weeks of demonstrations mainly by young people seeking change.

“The system must go” and “We are fed up with you,” read banners held up by protesters in central Algiers, scene of mass protests since February 22.
There was no official count but Reuters reporters estimated the number of participants after Friday prayers to be in the hundreds of thousands, roughly on the same scale as last week.

“The people want to uproot you,”the crowd chanted, addressing the establishment which has ruled the oil- and gas-producing nation since independence from France in 1962.

There were also protests in other major cities.

The demonstrations, largely peaceful, carried on as many Algerians continue to demand removal of the elite and prosecution of those they see as corrupt.

Bouteflika has been replaced by Abdelkader Bensalah, head of the upper house of parliament, as interim president for 90 days until a presidential election on July 4. He faces demands from the street to quit.

Algeria’s wealthiest businessman and four other tycoons close to Bouteflika were arrested last week as part of an anti-graft investigation, state media said.
The arrests came after army chief Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaed Salah said he expected members of the ruling elite to be prosecuted for corruption.
Salah intervened when Bouteflika sought to extend his fourth term, declaring him unfit for office, in a bid to avoid prolonged turmoil.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/security/civil-security/massive-protest-against-algeria-elite/
 

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Algeria’s ruling party names relatively young new leader amid protests

Algerian students watch a banner being fixed on a building's facade on April 30, 2019 as they continue their weekly protests in the capital Algiers. (AFP)
Updated 12 sec ago
Reuters
April 30, 2019
  • Businessman Mohamed Djemai, 50, , is a relatively youthful figure atop the FLN, most of whose senior officials are in their 70s
ALGIERS: Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party has elected businessman Mohamed Djemai as its new leader, state television said on Tuesday, a month after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika quit in the face of mass protests.

Bouteflika’s exit has not quieted protesters, who are now demanding the dismantling of an entire ruling elite entrenched for decades, a shift toward more democracy and a crackdown on systemic corruption and cronyism.

The 50-year-old Djemai, whose business interests have included smartphones, is a relatively youthful figure atop the FLN, most of whose senior officials are in their 70s and have dominated Algeria since independence from France in 1962.

Djemai replaces Moad Bouchareb. The FLN, which has ruled since independence in 1962, will lead Algeria to a position of security, Djemai was cited as saying by the private Ennahar TV. Until presidential elections on July 4, Algeria — a major oil and gas producer — will be run by Abdelkader Bensalah, head of the upper house of parliament, as caretaker president, although he has also faced demands to resign.

Many Algerians hardly took notice of the FLN leadership change as they pressed for bigger changes.

The army remains the most powerful institution in Algeria, having swayed politics from the shadows for decades. It has so far patiently monitored the mostly peaceful protests that at times have swelled to hundreds of thousands of people.

Earlier on Tuesday, the army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Gaed Salah — who helped push out Bouteflika after having him declared unfit for office — said several big corruption cases would come to light in a crackdown on graft, Ennahar TV reported.

A number of figures from the ruling elite including the finance minister, former prime minister and several oligarchs have come under investigation in recent weeks.

“The judiciary has been freed from all pressures,” Salah said in a speech at a base in the eastern city of Constantine. “The country will be cleansed of corruption and corrupt people.”

Salah spoke hours after former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who was sacked as part of a Cabinet reshuffle two days before Bouteflika resigned, appeared in court as part of a corruption investigation.

There was no immediate comment from Ouyahia or his lawyers. It is up to the court to decide whether there is enough evidence for him to face a formal charge. Ouyahia later left the court after being questioned by a prosecutor, state TV said.

“Put Ouyahia in prison,” read a banner held up as dozens of protesters gathered near the court in the capital, Algiers.

On Monday, Finance Minister Mohamed Loukal — a former central bank governor who only got the job from Bouteflika last month — appeared in court in relation to an investigation into suspected misuse of public funds, state TV reported.

At least five tycoons, some close to Bouteflika, have been detained and accused of involvement in corruption scandals.

 

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Algeria army chief calls for ‘dialogue’ with protesters
01 May 2019
AFP


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A demonstrator uses a bullhorn to shout protest slogans during a May Day march on Labour Day in Algiers, Algeria, May 1, 2019. (Reuters)

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Algerian protestors shout slogans during a demonstration marking May Day in Algiers on May 1, 2019. (AFP)

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Police officers prevent demonstrators from marching during a May Day protest on Labour Day in Algiers, Algeria, May 1, 2019. (Reuters)

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Algerian protestors shout slogans during a demonstration marking May Day in Algiers on May 1, 2019. (AFP)

  • Salah was for years an ardent supporter of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, until demanding on April 2 that impeachment proceedings be launched against the ailing leader
  • An interim president has been put in place and elections set for July 4, but protests which pushed Bouteflika from power have not abated
ALGIERS: Algeria’s army chief called Wednesday for dialogue between protesters and state institutions, a day after pushing back against demonstrators’ demands for top politicians to quit.
“I remain entirely convinced that adopting constructive dialogue with the institutions of the state, is the only way to exit from the crisis,” General Ahmed Gaid Salah said in a statement published by the defense ministry.
This is “the wisest way to present constructive proposals, bring points of view closer and reach a consensus around the available solutions,” he added.
Salah was for years an ardent supporter of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, until demanding on April 2 that impeachment proceedings be launched against the ailing leader — who stepped down the same day.
An interim president has been put in place and elections set for July 4, but protests which pushed Bouteflika from power have not abated.
On Wednesday hundreds of people rallied outside the General Workers’ Union in the capital Algiers, marking May Day, where they clutched Algerians flags and shouted slogans against the “system.”
Police prevented them from joining other protesters gathered outside the city’s iconic post office, the focal point of demonstrations which began in February and have regularly drawn vast crowds.
Salah on Tuesday rebuffed calls by demonstrators for interim leader Abdelkader Bensalah, the former upper house speaker, and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui to step down.
In a speech, the army chief said the upcoming polls — which fall within the timeframe allowed by the constitution — amount to “the ideal solution to end the crisis.”

 

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Thousands protest again against ruling elite in Algeria
Reuters -
03 May 2019

Thousands of protesters rallied peacefully in Algiers after Friday prayers, chanting “We will not shut up!” and demanding the departure of Algeria’s ruling elite a month after the downfall of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Weeks of demonstrations forced Bouteflika out of office on April 2 after 20 years in power. Protesters have continued mass demonstrations every Friday, demanding other members of the country’s elite also give way.

They are calling for the resignation of the interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah, who is serving for 90 days until an election on July 4, and of Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, appointed by Bouteflika days before he stepped down.

“You must go” and “Thieves you have destroyed the country”, read banners held up by protesters.

The army remains the most powerful institution in Algeria, having swayed politics from the shadows for decades. It has so far patiently monitored the mostly peaceful protests that at times have swelled to hundreds of thousands of people.

Last week the army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah – who helped push out Bouteflika after having him declared unfit for office – said several big corruption cases would come to light in a crackdown on graft.

A number of figures from the ruling elite including the finance minister, former prime minister and several rich businessmen have come under investigation in recent weeks.


 

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Military will not allow violence in Algeria
Reuters -
02 May 2019


Algeria’s army chief of staff said the military will ensure the country does not descend into violence, state TV reported, as mass protests that prompted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to quit on April 2 continue.

Bouteflika’s exit has not quieted protesters, who now demand dismantling of an entire ruling elite entrenched for decades, a shift towards more democracy and a crackdown on systemic corruption and cronyism.

Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah said ongoing marches showed there was consensus on how to exit the crisis, state TV reported. He did not elaborate and some protesters welcomed an effort by Salah to prosecute members of the ruling elite close to Bouteflika.

The army remains the most powerful institution in Algeria, having swayed politics from the shadows for decades. It has patiently monitored the mostly peaceful protests that at times swelled to thousands in number.

On Tuesday, Salah – who helped push out Bouteflika after having him declared unfit for office – said several big corruption cases would come to light in a crackdown on graft, private Ennahar TV station said.

Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party endorsed Salah’s approach and called on protesters and opposition parties to pursue dialogue to end the crisis.

“We hail the army’s leadership for its harmony with the people,” newly-elected FLN leader Mohamed Djemai said in televised comments. “Dialogue is the only way to get out of this situation.”

Djemai, a 50-year-old businessman, replaced Moad Bouchared as FLN chief, which governed the North African country since independence in 1962.

Mass protests broke out on February 22 to demand the departure of the entire ruling elite, including FLN.

“We feel pain and some party members cry when we hear ‘FLN, go,” Djemai said, referring to a slogan chanted by protesters. “We ask the peoples’ forgiveness if we made mistakes.”

Hundreds of people demonstrated again in Algiers on Wednesday for more reforms, TV footage showed.

 

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Thousands of Algerians hold first rally of Ramadan
07 May 2019 KSA

Thousands of Algerian students joined the first rally of Ramadan on Tuesday, pressing on with weeks of protests against the ruling elite after president Abdelaziz Bouteflika quit.

Wearing national flags over their shoulders, crowds gathered around the post office of central Algiers, which has become the focal point of demonstrations. “We will go on with the marches and the protests during and after Ramadan,” said Kheredine, a second-year chemistry student.

“It’s true that it’s hot and that we fast, but we want to let the regime know that the mobilization continues,” he added. “If you think we’re tired, you’re wrong!” read a placard held by Sedik Ait, one of Kheredine's teachers.

Student rallies were also held in cities across the country, Algerian media reported, as protesters push for a sweeping overhaul of the political system.

They stand opposed to July 4 elections called by interim president Abdelkader Bensalah, who was appointed after Bouteflika stepped down last month.

The polls are strongly backed by Algeria’s army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah, once an ardent supporter of Bouteflika who ultimately called for the president's impeachment.

Tuesday’s protest comes days after the arrest of the former president's brother, Said Bouteflika, a hugely influential figure who was frequently cited as a likely successor to his elder sibling.

Two former intelligence chiefs, General Mohamed Mediene, known as Toufik, and General Athmane Tartag were also detained and are facing charges including “conspiring” against the state.

Photos of the three were featured at the Algiers demonstration, alongside that of Gaid Salah who is largely thought to have ordered the arrests.

 

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Algerian Figures Call for Agreement That Meets Protesters’ Aspirations
Sunday, 19 May, 2019


Demonstrators gesture towards police officers during an anti-government protest in Algiers, Algeria May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

Algiers- Boualam Ghimrasah

Three prominent Algerian figures called on the military leadership to start “frank and honest” talks with representatives of the demonstrators, political parties and the civil society supporting the civil movement to find a consensual political solution as soon as possible.

They said this solution should respond to legitimate popular aspirations, which have been put forward every day for almost three months now.

As the situation in Algeria nears a dead-end, former Foreign Minister Ahmed Talib Brahimi, dean of human rights activists in Algeria senior Lawyer Ali Yahya Abdel Nour, 98, and the retired general, Rashid Ben Yels, proposed solutions.

The three figures are known for their engagement in public affairs, especially at times of crises.

“The deadlock witnessed nowadays carries grave dangers, in addition to the tension in our regional environment,” the three figures said in a joint statement.

“Sticking to July 4 to hold elections will only postpone the inevitable birth time of the new republic,” the statement added.

“How can we imagine holding free and fair elections that are already rejected by the vast majority of people, being organized by institutions that are still run by incompetent forces hostile to constructive change?” They wondered.

They were referring in their statement to acting head of state Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, who are both stalwarts of Bouteflika’s regime.

However, they both, in fact, are kept in their positions by Army Chief Gaid Salah under the pretext of “adhering to the constitution.”

Demonstrators, according to the statement, are calling for building a state of law with true democracy after ousting Bouteflika.

This law should be preceded by a short transition period led by figures who had nothing to do with the former corrupt system over the past 20 years.

“This phase is necessary in order to develop mechanisms and take measures that will allow the sovereign people to voice their opinions with freedom and democracy and decide on their president through ballot boxes,” the statement noted.

 
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