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Algerians Protest Army Chief’s Call for Swift Elections

Algerians Protest Army Chief’s Call for Swift Elections

Friday, 6 September, 2019 - 16:30
Algerian protesters gather during an anti-government demonstration in the center of the capital Algiers, Algeria, Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Anis Belghoul)

Tens of thousands of protesters piled once again onto the streets of the Algerian capital and other cities Friday with many calling for a transitional phase and rejecting the army chief's call for presidential elections before the end of the year.

Algeria has been without an elected president since protesters, helped by army chief Gen. Ahmed Gaid, forced Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign in early April.

Nationwide demonstrations started Feb. 22 to protest plans by Bouteflika, who was rarely seen in public since a 2013 stroke, to seek a fifth mandate.

Protesters now seek a democratic government and want a say in how to achieve that goal. Many opposition politicians are withholding judgment on Salah's call for quick elections while others fear that he is seeking a return of a system they reject.

Salah called this week to set a date by Sept. 15 for presidential elections. That would mean voting would be held by law 90 days later — in mid-December.

Many Algerians want a transition period to work out how to proceed, while others want elections but with conditions.

Hundreds of police were posted, like each week, around downtown Algiers on Friday, which saw the 29th consecutive protest.

Chants included "We refuse to be led by Gaid Salah" and "We're sick of generals."

Demonstrations were also held in a number of other cities, including the Kabyle capital of Tizi Ouzou, east of Algiers. And demonstrators demanded "a civilian and democratic nation" in the port city of Oran.

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