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Algerians Protest Against Election Plan

Algerians Protest Against Election Plan

Friday, 1 November, 2019 - 10:45
Judges and prosecutors take part in a protest to demand the independence of the judiciary in Algiers, Algeria October 31, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

Algerians are demonstrating against plans for upcoming elections they fear will be manipulated by a long-despised power structure.

Friday's protest coincides with celebrations marking 65 years since the beginning of Algeria's war for independence from France.

Thousands of people converged on the capital for Friday's protest, the 37th since their pro-democracy movement began in February, the Associated Press reported.

Some demonstrated peacefully in the streets overnight, while others banged on pots and pans in their homes to show support.

Crowds re-convened Friday morning for a march through Algiers.

The protesters want an election but don't want it run by the existing authorities, seen as corrupt and out of touch.

Riad Mostefai, a 23-year-old apprentice hairdresser, has marched through the capital of Algeria every Friday since February to demand a purge of the ruling hierarchy.

“We’re continuing to protest because we don’t trust the system. It might regenerate,” he said.

According to Reuters, though some of his demands have been met, Mostefai plans to keep on marching each week along with tens of thousands of others who don’t believe an election in December will change anything, as long as an opaque ruling elite remains in charge.

Meanwhile, the government has been increasing the pressure on the protesters by ramping up the police presence at marches, arresting dozens of demonstrators and also detaining prominent opposition figures.

For some of the hundreds of thousands who marched at the peak of the protests in the spring, the departure of Bouteflika in April and the jailing of his senior allies was enough for them to stop.

“I think Hirak has achieved most of its goals, now we need to move forward,” said Jalal Alalou, one Mostefai’s friends.

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