Algeria opposition activist arrested ahead of polls: family

Algeria opposition activist arrested ahead of polls: family
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Last month, the International Crisis Group said Algeria's situation had "deteriorated", noting that the authorities had "stepped up repression" against Hirak supporters ahead of the polls, "quashing demonstrations and arresting scores".

Algerian opposition activist Karim Tabbou [Getty]

Algerian opposition activist Karim Tabbou was arrested Thursday on the eve of parliamentary elections he and fellow pro-democracy Hirak movement supporters are boycotting, his family said.

"Arrest of Karim Tabbou near his home," his brother Djafar wrote on his Facebook page.

The director of the Algerian station Radio M and the Maghreb Emergent news site, Ihsane El Kadi, was also arrested, the Casbah Tribune news site reported.

Algeria holds a parliamentary election Saturday under the shadow of a protest movement boycott and deep scepticism the North African nation can escape political paralysis and worsening economic crisis.

The poll comes as authorities seek to bolster their legitimacy and take the wind out of the sails of the Hirak, the protest movement which returned to the streets in February following an almost year-long break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Back in 2019, the Hirak mobilised hundreds of thousands to force longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika into resignation, after he launched a bid for a fifth term.

It has urged boycotts of all national votes since then. A presidential election 18 months ago, won by Abdelmadjid Tebboune, attracted a turnout of less than 40 percent, even according to official figures.

Last month, the International Crisis Group said Algeria's situation had "deteriorated", noting that the authorities had "stepped up repression" against Hirak supporters ahead of the polls, "quashing demonstrations and arresting scores".

Tebboune's government claims to have responded to the Hirak's main demands "in record time" but says they are "counter-revolutionaries" in the pay of "foreign parties" hostile to Algeria.

For the protest movement, Tebboune's status as a former prime minister under Bouteflika dovetails into its narrative that the old guard remains unashamedly at the helm.