13 April 2019

Algerian Protesters Demand Bouteflika Allies Step Down

Photo: Lisa Bryant /VOA
Algerians climbed on the iconic Marianne statue in downtown Paris as the protest against Bouteflika's intention to seeka another term in office.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Algiers and other Algerian cities to demand the ruling elite step down from power. They were the first rallies since elections were announced for July.

Police said they used tear gas to break up groups of young people in the center of the Algerian capital on Friday and made 180 arrests after clashes with "infiltrators." State television reported there were similar protests in most cities across the North African country.

The General Directorate of National Security said 27 policemen were injured, four of them seriously, during clashes.

Hundreds of thousands attended the largely peaceful rally in Algiers calling for the removal the country's elite from power. Protesters denounced interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and held bearing "We want the prosecution of all corrupt people" and "No to the gang."

Demonstrators say the presidential election on July 4 cannot be free or fair if senior officials linked to former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika are still in office.

Bouteflika stepped down ten days ago in response to weeks of street protests against his two decades of rule. Bensalah, a longtime ally, replaced him as interim president and said he would stay in office until the presidential vote.

Algeria's army chief, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, said Wednesday that he expected to see the "gang" close to Bouteflika prosecuted for corruption, and that he would support a transition towards elections. But he warned against protesters' "unrealistic slogans" seeking to sweep away the entire ruling system.

Salah played a major role in Bouteflika's departure, but angered protesters when he backed interim leader Bensalah.

Social media had been used to organize the eighth consecutive Friday of demonstrations. This one was called under the slogan "They will all leave."

jm/amp (Reuters, dpa)

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