Analysis. President Tebboune’s conciliatory move was rejected by the protesters ahead of the June vote. Hundreds have been arrested.

‘Dismantle the political system’: Algeria’s Hirak movement stays in the streets

Thousands of Algerians marched in Algiers for the third consecutive Friday since the great demonstration on February 22 (the 108th since the protests began in 2019), on the occasion of the second anniversary of the beginning of the Hirak protest movement, which led to the fall of the former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.


Despite the ban on rallies imposed by the government to combat the pandemic, in several large cities of the country such as Oran, Bejaia, Tizi Ouzou, Bouira and Annaba marches have started to demand “a civil and non-military status” and a “new democratic Algeria,” the main demands and slogans of Hirak. A clear message in response to this Thursday’s announcement by President Abdelmajid Tebboune who, after having dissolved Parliament on February 21, set the legislative elections for June 12, hoping for “strong popular participation” in order to bring to parliament “the wind of change of Hirak, through its youth, its activism and its peaceful protest.”


A gesture of pacification and an attempt to regain control of the resumption of the protest movement which, despite the pardon for over 60 activists and journalists, did not actually achieve the expected results. Thousands of protesters continue to call for the “dismantling of the political system,” synonymous in their eyes with corruption and authoritarianism.


“We did not vote on Dec. 12 in the presidential elections and we will not vote as long as this power remains in office and people are victims of injustice and arrests,” said the participants in the march on Friday, denouncing the return to the front line of parties such as the Front of National Liberation (FLN) or the National Democratic Rally (RND), in crisis for having supported the Bouteflika regime in recent years.


According to reports from the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD), Friday’s demonstration in Algiers was marked by violence against the numerous journalists by “unspecified thugs”, perhaps infiltrated by the security forces “to repress correct information of the protests without censorship.”


“Hundreds of arrests were made among protesters in Tizi-Ouzou, Khenchela, Oued Souf, Tlemcen, M’sila, Tiaret and Amara where a 7-year-old child was arrested along with his father by the police,” continues the CNLD statement. “Even if then the majority of those arrested were released.”

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