Thousands of Algerians gathered at the Grande Poste building in downtown Algiers on Friday for an anti-government rally called to coincide with the 65th anniversary of the start of the country’s war for independence from France, reported Reuters.
November 1 is a national holiday in Algeria to commemorate the start of the war that led to the North African country’s independence after 132 years of French colonial rule.
“Algeria will take back its independence” and “The people want their independence”, protesters chanted.
It was the 37th consecutive Friday protest since their pro-democracy movement began in February. Protesters are demanding a new revolution and have rejected the government’s proposed election next month as they argue it would not be transparent or fair under the current political system.
Weeks of mass protests forced the long-serving President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign in April amid pressure from the country’s powerful military over his bid for a fifth term in office. But his resignation was not enough for the protesters who still continue with the protests. They have now targeted the protests against Bouteflika’s whole regime and want a complete overhaul of the political system in place since 1962. They are calling for government reforms to tackle the widespread corruption and state repression.
Earlier on Wednesday, powerful Army Chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah said the election had the “full support” of the Algerian people, despite the slogan “no vote!” resonating every week at protests. Salah is the one who has led the push for presidential polls by the end of 2019.
Algerians are also frustrated by interim president Abdelkader Bensalah comments. In a video clip, Bensalah can be heard saying Russian President Vladimir Putin that the size of the protests was being “exaggerated”.
The people of Algeria said on social media that they felt “humiliated” by Bensalah’s comments.