Algerians took to the streets for the 32nd straight week on Friday to demand radical political reforms in the country and oppose the presidential election set for December, reported Reuters. They are also demanding the release of prominent opposition figures.
Karim Tabbou, was detained last week, then released on Wednesday and re-arrested on Thursday, his lawyer said. Protesters have held up placards demanding his release.
The protesters managed to force President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down in April, but they vow not to support the elections until all traces of the Bouteflika regime, mired in corruption, including interim president Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, step down from their posts. They also want Army chief Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, who emerged as an authority figure since Bouteflika’s removal, to step down.
Salah remains the head of the armed forces and is considered to be the most powerful man in the country. The speaker of parliament’s upper house, Abdelkader Bensalah, is currently serving as the interim president. Both men held senior posts in the former government.
The army have detained numerous senior officials on suspicion of corruption, one of the main complaints of the protesters, and on Wednesday sentenced two former intelligence chiefs and Bouteflika’s brother to long prison terms for conspiring against the state and undermining the military.
But, the protestors still claim the election cannot be free or fair while so many members of Bouteflika’s establishment remain in power.
On Thursday, former Prime Ministers Ali Benflis and Abdelmadjid Tebboune said they would run in the December polls.
Benflis, 75, won 12.3 percent in the 2014 presidential election. He leads the Talae al-Huriyat opposition party, but also served as Bouteflika’s prime minister from 2000 to 2003. Tebboune, 74, served as the prime minister for just 81 days in 2017 before he was sacked by Bouteflika after a clash with influential businessmen.