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Start of 41st Friday of protests in Algeria, amid insistence on rejection of presidential elections

Thousands of Algerians take part in an anti-government demonstration against Bouteflika regime figures in Algiers, Algeria on 5 November 2019. [Farouk Batiche/Anadolu Agency]

Friday saw the commencement of the 41st Friday of demonstrations by the Algerian Popular Movement in Algiers and other cities. The purpose of these demonstrations is to demand the departure of symbolic figures of the political regime, to reject the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for 12 December and to limit the military’s influence on political decisions.

Thousands of people gathered in the morning in the centre of Algiers, with marches starting in Didouche Mourad Street and the square next to the Central Post, in rejection of the upcoming presidential elections, before the departure of the acting head of state, Abdelkader Bensalah, and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui. The demonstrators’ slogans conveyed an intensified tone, shouting “we swear to God you will not organise the elections, Bedoui and Bensalah must be expelled [go].”

Demonstrators believe that the December elections will renew the same political regime. They shouted slogans against the candidates, specifically towards the former prime minister, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who is accused by the Popular Movement of being the candidate of the authority and the army. In addition, slogans also hinted at his son’s relationship with the arrested drug lord, Kamal El-Boushi.

READ: ‘Algeria’s Bouteflika made decisions to please Israel’ 

The demonstrators renewed their commitment to peaceful protests and rejected all forms of violence, and chanted slogans calling for a civil state, the rejection of the army’s dominance of the political decisions and Algerians’ future options. They also raised banners reading “civilian, not military, state,” “no to the generals and Algeria must take independence,” and “we do not want the commander, or a military rule again,” in reference to their aspirations to break free from the grip of the military.

Since Saturday night, the Algerian capital has witnessed a large deployment of security officers in the streets and main squares hosting the demonstrations, and large numbers of security forces and vehicles were seen in the streets of Didouche Mourad, Mohamed V, Hassiba Ben Bouali and near the Central Post. The authorities also continued the closure of the university tunnel, to prevent the passage of demonstrators and to tighten security controls at the capital’s entrances, especially the eastern entrance linking with the governorates of the east and the tribal region, to hinder the largest possible number of protestors from arriving and participating in the demonstrations.

The popular protests came a day after the first step that appeared to have internationalised the Algerian situation, following the European Parliament’s approval of a regulation condemning the situation of freedoms in Algeria and the campaign of arrests by the authorities against activists, demanding a political dialogue to resolve the crisis in the country.

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