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Algeria governors sacked after 5 killed in building collapse

The collapse of a building in the Algerian city of Kasbah killed 5 members of the same family on 22 April 2019 [Twitter]
The collapse of a building in the Algerian city of Kasbah killed 5 members of the same family on 22 April 2019 [Twitter]

Several Algerian governors have been sacked following the collapse of a building in the Algerian city of Kasbah, which killed five members of the same family.

Rescue teams arrived at the site of dilapidated, four-storey building yesterday, but found that the occupants inside the house, including an eight-year-old girl and an infant, were already dead.

According to neighbours, the family had been squatting in the building after its formal occupants were evacuated several months ago due to concerns about the strength of the structure.

However the incident caused anger amongst the locals; the building had been painted over last year when former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika inaugurated the Ottoman-era Ketchaoua mosque nearby. Concerns about the safety of the building had been raised, but no plans were made to renovate the building for the residents' welfare.

In an attempt to quell the anger, Abdelkader Zoukh, the governor of Algiers and a Bouteflika supporter, visited the site, but his trip had the reverse effect and he was quickly chased away by angry residents. Thousands later participated in a protest outside the state headquarters condemning the lack of action by the authorities.

READ: After Bouteflika, Algeria's economy needs revival

Hours later, state television announced that Zoukh had been removed from his post, alongside the dismissal of five other governors of the neighbouring Setif, Batna, El Taref, Bourmerdes and Laghouat, but did not elaborate further.

Hundreds of people attended the funerals of the family in Kasbah earlier today, as the Attorney general vowed to launch an investigation as to the cause of the building's collapse.

Algeria has witnessed regular protests by millions of people in recent months, resulting in the ailing president announcing that he would step down. The octogenarian leader has been the subject of intense protests since the beginning of the year after he announced he would run for a fifth term.

The Algerian army is now overseeing a 90-day transitional period during which presidential polls should be held according to Algeria's constitution. However demonstrators continued to protest, demanding the departure of all Bouteflika-era officials, including interim leader Abdelkader Bensalah.

Elections scheduled for 4 July have been rejected by several opposition parties, including the Development and Justice Party, Al-Nahda and Al-Benaa Al-Watani – describing the upcoming polls as "an attempt by the illegitimate authority to replicate itself through false elections".

"The holding of elections with the same legal and regulatory framework will lead to the assumption of power by the same authorities that the people are now demanding to step down," the statement read.

Many Algerians are concerned that Bouteflika's resignation will prove just a change of face, with another senior official of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) brought to the fore to lead the country.

On Friday, hundreds of thousands of Algerians staged demonstrations in the capital Algiers to demand the departure of all officials affiliated with the regime.

READ: Algerian parties boycott consultations session with authorities

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