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Hundreds of thousands of Algerians demand resignation of Bouteflika allies in ninth Friday of protests

Protesters called for the resignation of Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui today

Date of publication: 19 April, 2019

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Protesters in central Algiers on Friday staged their ninth weekly mass rally, galvanised by the departure of longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika but vowing to keep up their demands for reforms.

Protesters in central Algiers on Friday staged their ninth weekly mass rally, galvanised by the departure of longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika but vowing to keep up their demands for sweeping reforms.

The news agency Reuters reported that "hundreds of thousands" of people took to the streets across Algeria.

Algerians first hit the streets in huge numbers on February 22 after the octogenarian leader's announcement that he would stand for a fifth term in presidential elections that had been scheduled for Thursday.

But his departure early this month spurred demonstrators to seek further changes, notably the resignation of three senior Bouteflika allies. Activists chalked up a second victory Tuesday as one of the three, constitutional council chief Tayeb Belaiz, followed Bouteflika to the exit.

But student Lyes Adimi, 24, said more change was needed. "Just because Belaiz has resigned that doesn't mean it's over," she said. "What has the constitutional council ever done apart from validating the fraud of the system it belongs to?"

Protesters are demanding the resignation of the two remaining members of a group dubbed the "3B" -- interim leader Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui -- saying regime stalwarts should be entirely excluded from any political transition. Belaiz's replacement, little-known senior judge and former prosecutor Kamel Feniche, is also seen as a regime loyalist.

Protesters rallied today outside the capital's iconic main Post Office building, chanting: "The people want them all to leave!" and "Barakat (Enough of) this system!". Despite Bensalah calling a presidential election on July 4, Algerian demonstrations are demanding a broader overhaul of the political system.




Human Rights Watch today accused the Algerian authorities of “dispersing peaceful demonstrations and arbitrarily detaining protesters”, noting the authorities’ “inconsistent” response to the protests, which allows some protests to proceed while dispersing others by force and arresting participants. Female protesters arrested by police have been subjected to humiliating searches. Police forces were keeping a low profile today.

Algerian army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah hinted this week that the military may soften its position, saying: "All options remain open... in order to find a solution to the crisis as soon as possible." He also vowed that the Algerian army would not turn its weapons on its people, but would make sure that "no drop of Algerian blood is spilled".

Read more:

Algeria activists fear tougher police tactics after Friday clashes

 

 

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