Protesters filled the streets of Algeria’s capital for the first Friday mass rally of Ramadan, pressing their demands for the resignation of acting head of state Abdelkader Bensalah, Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui and Army Chief Gaid Salah, all stalwarts of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s regime.
High temperatures did not dissuade citizens from marching against Salah, who has vowed to press ahead with presidential elections in July.
The Youth Action Rally and Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights accused the army of creating a transition period by force.
Demonstrators along with rights groups also condemned the arrest of head of Algeria’s Worker’s Party Louisa Hanoune, a three-time presidential candidate who was detained Thursday on charges of involvement in “a conspiracy against the army.”
Her arrest has sparked a political earthquake in the country, leaving a state of fear among politicians and party leaders who are affiliated with the former regime.
She was detained because she met Said Bouteflika, at her own request, and talked with him about the recent developments.
Protesters raised slogans reading “free and non-selective justice.” They called for Hanoune’s release, demanding civil trial if she is detained on political charges.
They announced solidarity with Hanoune, who was summoned to the military court and detained after appearing as a witness,” describing this act as “a violation of the democracy advocated by the rally since its launch on February 22.”
According to lawyers, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat about the arrests of businessmen and former regime figures, ex-Trade Minister Amara Benyounes and former Minister of Public Works Omar Ghoul are expected to be summoned.
They had both demanded extending the rule of Bouteflika who resigned on April 2 under pressure from the protesters.
According to local media, Ghoul and Benyounes had attended meetings organized by Mohamed Mediene, aka General Toufik, and Said Bouteflika, at the end of March.
They discussed choosing a president without informing the army leadership in addition to discussing removing Salah from power.
Although both figures denied the report, they are expected to be summoned by the military judiciary on charges of “conspiracy.”