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Algeria's Protests Enter 7th Month

Algeria's Protests Enter 7th Month

Friday, 23 August, 2019 - 18:00
Demonstrators chant slogans during a protest demanding the removal of the ruling elite in Algiers, Algeria July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

Algerians on Friday were back on the streets reiterating their demands for the removal of the ruling elite 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 country 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 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.

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".

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