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Protests again in Algeria to demand political change

Thousands of students, doctors and civil servants stage a protest to demand President Abdelaziz Bouteflika step from power, in front of Central Post Office Square in Algiers, Algeria on 19 March 2019. [Farouk Batiche - Anadolu Agency]
Thousands of students, doctors and civil servants stage a protest to demand President Abdelaziz Bouteflika step from power, in front of Central Post Office Square in Algiers, Algeria on 19 March 2019 [Farouk Batiche/Anadolu Agency]

Thousands of protesters gathered in Algiers for an eighth successive Friday to demand the departure of the ruling elite as Algeria prepares for a presidential election in July.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down from 20 years in power on 2 April, bowing to pressure from the army and weeks of demonstrations mainly by young people seeking change in the North African country.

But protests have continued as many want the removal of an elite that has governed Algeria since independence from France in 1962 and the prosecution of what they see as corrupt figures.

READ: General strike in Algeria against Bensalah’s ascension to presidency

Bouteflika has been replaced by Abdelkader Bensalah, head of the upper house of parliament, as interim president for 90 days until a presidential election on 4 July.

“No to Bensalah,” the protesters chanted, gathering in the centre of Algiers where mass protests broke out on 22 February.

“We want the prosecution of all corrupt people,” one banner read.

READ: Algeria could be the light at the end of the counter-revolutionary tunnel

On Wednesday, Algeria’s army chief, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaed Salah, said he expected to see members of the ruling elite prosecuted for corruption and said he would support a transition toward elections.

More than one in four people under the age of 30, some 70 per cent of the population, are unemployed – one of the central grievances of protesters who want the economy liberalised and diversified to reduce its reliance on its oil and gas production.

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