Hundreds of Algerians defy police to mark protest anniversary

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Hundreds of Algerians marched Monday within the capital and different cities to mark the second anniversary of the North African nation’s anti-government “Hirak” protest motion that convulsed Algeria earlier than the Covid-19 pandemic compelled it off the streets. 

Chanting “A civilian state not a navy state!”, “Sufficient is sufficient!” and “The folks need independence!”, protesters walked by means of the centre of the capital, waving nationwide flags, watched by giant numbers of police.

A number of the protesters hope to revive the twice-weekly Hirak protests that surged by means of Algerian cities from February 2019 for greater than a yr, frequently bringing tens of hundreds of individuals to the streets till the worldwide pandemic started.

“We’re decided to proceed our battle till victory,” mentioned Djamel Habi, a scholar.

Nonetheless, different protesters mentioned the march was symbolic reasonably than a return to common demonstrations, or that and not using a clear opposition management they weren’t but certain whether or not to proceed with protests.

The Hirak motion in April 2019 compelled longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika into resigning, and Monday’s demonstration in Algiers was the biggest since rallies had been suspended in March final yr because of the pandemic.

Heavy safety presence in Algiers

Safety checkpoints created site visitors jams throughout town, with id checks carried out round key flashpoints, with a number of arrests made.

Police tried to dam protesters from gathering across the Grand Submit Workplace, which was on the coronary heart of the mass protests that kicked off in Algiers and a number of other different cities on February 22, 2019 to oppose Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth time period.

Elsewhere within the nation, marches had been being held Monday together with in Annaba, Oran, Setif and Mostaganem, in keeping with witnesses and accounts on social media.

‘Usual folks’

On the eve of the Hirak second anniversary, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune introduced a restricted authorities reshuffle in a bid to move off renewed rallies.

The reshuffle noticed few main adjustments by Tebboune, who was as soon as a main minister underneath Bouteflika.

Amongst these retained are Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad and Justice Minister Belkacem Zeghmati, seen as a logo of Algeria’s judicial crackdown on protesters and opposition activists.

Tebboune additionally signed a decree dissolving parliament, clearing the best way for early elections, for which no date has but been set.

In a gesture of appeasement on Thursday, he introduced pardons which have led to this point to the discharge of virtually 40 pro-democracy activists, together with opposition determine Rachid Nekkaz and journalist Khaled Drareni, who has develop into a logo of a battle for a free press.

Tebboune returned to Algeria final week after spending a lot of the previous 4 months in Germany receiving medical therapy after contracting Covid-19.

Zaki Hannache, a 33-year-old activist, mentioned Hirak supporters had been unimpressed by the president’s reshuffle and his name for early legislative polls.

“The reshuffle does not curiosity me, it is the identical previous folks. Identical factor with parliament, the brand new ones (deputies) will work, like the present regime, for their very own pursuits, not for the folks,” he mentioned.

Final Tuesday, hundreds of Algerians rallied within the northern city of Kherrata, the place the primary main protest erupted in 2019 towards Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth presidential time period.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)



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