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Half a million Algerian workers jobless following corruption investigations

'The fruits of Bouteflika’s regime?' Algerian protesters earlier [AP]
'The fruits of Bouteflika’s regime?' Algerian protesters earlier [AP]

Half a million Algerian workers have lost their jobs, as several companies, which were subjected to corruption investigations for months, shut down their activities. The inquiries included companies owned by businessmen, known for their closeness to former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and who ended up being arrested. Among the detainees was the former chairman of the Forum of Heads of Institutions, Ali Haddad.

On Monday, Sami Akli, chairman of the Forum of Heads of Institutions, stated on behalf of Algeria’s largest businessmen forum: “We have 500.000 workers who lost their jobs over the past few months as a result of the ongoing crisis.”

The Anadolu Agency quoted Akli saying: “The construction and irrigation sectors in the country are experiencing an intense calamity as more than 70 per cent of both sectors’ professionals are shutting down their businesses.”

He continued: “In return, we do not see any solutions to this crisis by the current government, but we are rather witnessing freezing operations of financially troubled companies’ bank accounts,” stressing the need for “an urgent action plan to support the owners of economic establishments, who are carrying out a process of layoffs.”

For months, the Algerian judiciary has been investigating corruption cases, involving companies owned by several businessmen. This coincided with a continuous popular uprising since 22 February, which resulted in toppling Bouteflika and led to the imprisonment of many of his regime’s affiliates, as part of an anti-corruption campaign.

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In early September, the Algerian government announced an upcoming lifting of the freeze on the bank accounts of pro-Bouteflika business people who have been jailed in corruption cases, without setting a specific date.

During recent months, the workers and employees of the companies owned by the imprisoned businessmen have protested on several occasions, as they have not been paid for months.

Algeria is preparing to hold presidential elections on 12 December amid the opposition’s rejection of such a step, under the argument that the current conditions are unfavourable to hold elections. The Algerian authorities, however, are stressing that the coming elections are vital to overcoming the current political and economic crisis.

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