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Algeria: New Protests Erupt Against December Elections

Algeria: New Protests Erupt Against December Elections

Thursday, 21 November, 2019 - 07:15
Algerian policemen make arrests during a protest of Algerian journalists for the freedom of expression and against Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term, in Algiers, Algeria, 28 February 2019. EPA

Hundreds of Algerians marched in the capital Algiers late on Wednesday, stepping up pressure on the authorities to cancel a Dec. 12 presidential election.

Weekly protests have taken place on Tuesdays and Fridays since February, but demonstrators appear eager to increase their street presence in the run up to the vote.

Marching through the main streets of Algiers, the protesters chanted “No vote, no vote” as security forces intervened to disperse them, Reuters reported.

The protest movement erupted in February as veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika prepared to stand for another term in an election that was originally scheduled for July.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Algiers and other towns and cities calling for him and the rest of the old ruling elite that had governed since independence from France in 1962 to quit power.

Bouteflika stepped aside in April as the army withdrew its support and the authorities began detaining his allies and other senior officials and businessmen on corruption charges.

The demonstrators reject any election that takes place while old members of the ruling elite remain in place, saying it could not be fair.

According to Reuters, the army, now the main player in Algeria’s politics, has repeatedly vowed transparency for the vote, saying the military would not back any candidate.

The five men running in the election are all former senior officials, though some had later spoken out against Bouteflika or opposed him in earlier elections.

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