The magistrates union of Algeria has begun an open-ended strike to demand judicial independence following a major reshuffle that has affected thousands, reported The National.
The National Magistrates’ Syndicate (SNM) described the move as “a stranglehold by the executive over the power of the judiciary”. The strike was being observed by 96 percent of all judges and prosecutors and as a result, all the courts across the country including the Supreme Court have come to a standstill.
It accused the government of encroaching on the prerogatives of the Supreme Judicial Council. Earlier this month the justice ministry carried out a reshuffle of the judiciary in a move that affected 3,000 judges and prosecutors, out of around 6,000. The ministry defended its actions saying that the reshuffle was unanimously ordered by the members of the judicial council.
The strike by the Algerian judges and prosecutors follows anti-government protests in the country, which still continue against a planned December presidential election. Notably, magistrates play a major role in overseeing elections in the North African country.
The Hirak protest movement began in February to demand that Bouteflika resigns instead of running for a fifth term.
Last week on Friday, the Algerians took to the streets for the 36th consecutive week to demonstrate against the country’s ruling power-brokers. They have rejected the upcoming December polls as they claim that Bouteflika-era figures, who are still in power, will use the presidential poll as an opportunity to appoint his successor. The protesters are demanding for a complete political overhaul before any elections are conducted in the country.
In related news, Algeria’s electoral committee on Monday announced it has registered 22 candidates for the December polls, including Ali Benflis and Abdelmadjid Tebboune, two former prime ministers who served under former president Bouteflika.