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Algeria: Tebboune Cautions Hirak Protesters

Algeria: Tebboune Cautions Hirak Protesters

Wednesday, 7 April, 2021 - 04:30
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. Reuters file photo

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune Tuesday warned pro-democracy Hirak activists of "non-innocent activities" as authorities say the movement is being hijacked ahead of elections.


Tebboune warned against "non-innocent activities" that "attempt to hinder the democratic process", after meeting of the country's top security council.


The president has called early elections for June 12 in an attempt to respond to the country's political and socio-economic crisis, but Hirak supporters have denounced the vote as a "masquerade".


The Hirak protest movement was sparked in February 2019 over then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in office.


The ailing strongman was forced to step down weeks later, but the Hirak continued with demonstrations, demanding a sweeping overhaul of a ruling system in place since Algeria's independence from France in 1962.


Since the movement's second anniversary on February 22, thousands have continued to defy a ban on gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic and taken to the streets for weekly protests, which were suspended for almost a year due to the health crisis.


The Algerian security body Tuesday examined "subversive acts" and "illegal movements close to terrorism, which exploit the weekly marches" of the Hirak, AFP quoted a statement as saying.


Also Tuesday, a crowd of Hirak supporters marched in the capital Algiers in a weekly student-led demonstration that passed off peacefully.


Protesters chanted "free the detainees" and brandished posters of detained supporters of the largely leaderless and politically unstructured movement.


Hirak detainees included 24 people incarcerated Monday on accusations of "undermining national unity", after being arrested during a weekend Hirak march in Algiers, according to the CNLD prisoners' rights group.


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