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General strike in Algeria against Bensalah’s ascension to presidency

Algerian youths collect trash behind riot police during an anti-regime demonstration in Algiers, Algeria on 10 April 2019 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty]
Algerian youths collect trash behind riot police during an anti-regime demonstration in Algiers, Algeria on 10 April 2019 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty]

Algerians, Wednesday, began a general strike accompanied by demonstrations in several cities. These protests were to express the public’s rejection of Abdelkader Bensalah’s assumption of the presidency following Abdelaziz Bouteflika resignation last week. The rejection of Bensalah is because the latter had served as Speaker of the Council of the Nation in Bouteflika’s regime.

The second wave of popular protests against Bensalah comes because he is considered a “representative” of Bouteflika’s regime, which is against the people’s demand to change the regime.

Bensalah had headed the Council of the Nation, and has officially taken over the presidency on Tuesday, on the basis of a constitutional article regulating the situation of “position vacancy,” and has thus taken over the presidency of the state for 3 months, in preparation for presidential elections, after Bouteflika’s resignation last week.

Thousands of employees, students and citizens gathered at the central post office square in the centre of the capital on Wednesday morning and chanted slogans rejecting Bensalah presidency, amid intensive deployment of security officers.

READ: Algeria’s parliament appoints close associate of Bouteflika as interim president

In addition, in May 1 Square in the centre of the capital, the police prevented the launching of a protest march in response to a call by a bloc of 13 independent unions.

Protesters then passed security barriers towards streets and side alleys and headed to the square of the central post office to join the main demonstration.

The protesters shouted against Bensalah and demanded the complete overthrow of the symbols of the existing regime, especially the government of Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui and the President of the Constitutional Council Tayeb Belaiz.

Algerians protest president’s bid for 5th term - Cartoon [Mohammad Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Algerians protest president’s bid for 5th term – Cartoon [Mohammad Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

 According to a labour union source, the largest industrial area in the capital is participating in the general strike.

 He added that employees of dozens of government and private companies also went on a strike, amid the closure of most of the schools in the capital.

The photos and video clips circulated by activists, through social media websites, have shown the suspension of work in many government companies, schools, and hospitals in the provinces of Jijel (East), Béjaïa and Bouïra (centre).

The strike comes in response to a call by a bloc of 13 independent labour unions, from the education, health, postal and aviation sectors that refuse to deal with Bedoui’s government and Bensalah’s presidency in a transitional period.

READ: Algeria’s parliament appoints close associate of Bouteflika as interim president

 Since two months, the country has been witnessing widespread protests that forced Bouteflika to resign at the beginning of April after 20 years in power. The protests are still ongoing in rejection of the symbols of the regime’s continuing rule over the country, according to protesters.

 Protests against Bensalah have been going on for the second consecutive day, taking a more serious stand on Wednesday through the general strike.

 

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