Demonstrations broke out in several Algerian cities, demanding radical change for the 44th Friday of the popular movement, as a result of the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who announced his commitment to respond to the demands of the public.
Thousands of Algerians took to the streets of several cities after Friday prayers, in a movement that has maintained its momentum since its launch on 22 February. Protestors stressed on the same demands for change, holding the belief that Tebboune is a relic of the Algerian regime of ousted president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
The demonstrators chanted slogans confirming the continuation of the popular movement, including: “We will not retreat,” “The regime must leave,” “We will not engage in discussion with counterfeiters” and “We will not stop.”
Activists widely circulated a video showing a person in the middle of the demonstrators in the centre of the capital, carrying the Qur’an and performing a pledge announcing: “I swear to the almighty God that I will not betray the movement, the people, the homeland and Algeria,” with the crowd repeating this pledge with him, in a symbolic step following Tebboune being sworn in.
The demonstrations are a continuation of an ongoing movement since 22 February, but on this occasion they came one day after the inauguration ceremony of the winner of the presidential elections, held on 12 December.
— Khaled Drareni (@khaleddrareni) December 20, 2019
In his inaugural speech on Thursday, Tebboune asserted that his election is: “One of the fruits of the blessed popular movement that has been initiated by our noble people, when they sensed with their conscience that a national change is needed, to stop the collapse of the state and its institutions,” during the rule of former president, Bouteflika.
He affirmed that part of the movement’s demands had been achieved with the army’s participation: “And I reassure my commitment to cooperate with everyone to achieve the remaining demands, within the framework of national consensus and the laws of the republic.”
Tebboune also pledged to:
Amend the Constitution, which is the foundation stone of a new republic, in the first months, if not in the first weeks, so as to fulfil the people’s demands that are expressed in the blessed popular movement.
Tebboune also reiterated his call for a dialogue in order to achieve the desired change, in a call that left a divide amongst the demonstrators between those who rejected it, on the pretext that it is coming from an illegal regime, and those who stipulated conditions for the participation in the dialogue, such as the release of detainees over the past months.
As part of measures taken to appease the public, on Thursday Tebboune replaced prime minister, Noureddine Bedoui, since the popular movement had previously demanded his departure, with foreign minister, Sabri Boukadoum, tasking him with running a caretaker government. Tebboune also dismissed the minister of interior, Salah Eddine Dahmoune, amid statements by oppositionists, and even candidates of the recent presidential elections, demanding the necessity of continuing the popular movement in order to pressure the new president to implement the demands for change.