Algeria’s protest movement enters 7th month - GulfToday

Algeria’s protest movement enters 7th month


Algerian demonstrators take to the streets in the capital Algiers to protest against the government on Friday. Associated Press

Algerians were back on the streets demanding an overhaul of the political system as the country’s protest movement entered a seventh month with no let-up in sight.

Crowds of demonstrators who thronged the capital and key cities across the North African nation rallied to cries of a “Free and democratic Algeria” and a “Civil state, not a military one.”

They directed their wrath at army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who has emerged as the key powerbroker since veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April in the face of mass protests.

They also vented their ire against Karim Younes, an ex-speaker of the lower house appointed by authorities to head a national dialogue to pave the way for presidential elections.

“Karim Younes does not represent us and Gaid (Salah) does not rule us!” the demonstrators shouted.

They also chanted: “We will not be fooled by any dialogue. The people are conscious. They are not idiots.”

The protest in Algiers dispersed calmly in the late afternoon, while demonstrations in other major cities likewise passed off without disturbances, according to local journalists.

In July, Bouteflika’s interim successor Abdelkader Bensalah proposed a national dialogue without state or military involvement.

Elections planned for July 4 were postponed, after the only two candidates — both little-known — were rejected by electoral authorities.

The demonstrators have repeatedly demanded key regime figures step down — and credible institutions be established — before any polls.

The protesters have so far maintained a united front, taking to the streets every week since February.

 Only a few opposition parties have so far agreed to meet with Younes and his dialogue committee, including a party headed by former prime minister Ali Benflis.

Last week the ex-premier said that presidential elections were the only way of emerging from the political crisis that has gripped Algeria for six months, so long as the polls were free and fair.

But on Friday the demonstrators rejected his views, chanting “Benflis to the rubbish bin.”

Friday’s rally began after demonstrators observed a minute of silence for five young people who were killed late Thursday in a stampede at a packed rap concert in Algiers.

Agence France-Presse

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