Protests erupt again
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators returned to Algeria’s streets yesterday to press demands for wholesale democratic change well beyond former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s resignation, chanting “we do what we want,” witnesses said. Parliament named an interim president and a July 4 election date was set in a transition endorsed by Algeria’s powerful military.
But Bouteflika’s April 2 exit failed to placate many Algerians who want to topple the entire elite that has dominated the country since independence from France in 1962. Protesters gathered anew in city centers around Algeria demanding root-and-branch reforms — including political pluralism and crackdowns on corruption and cronyism, witnesses said. Numbers later surged after Friday prayers.
There was no official count but Reuters reporters at the scene estimated the number of demonstrators in the hundreds of thousands as on previous Fridays since the extraordinary mass dissent erupted on Feb 22. “We will not give up our demands,” said Mourad Hamini, standing outside his coffee shop, where thousands of protesters were waving Algerian flags.
The crowd later chanted: “This is our country and we do what we want!“ Protesters also called for Abdelkader Bensalah, head of the upper house of parliament, to quit as caretaker president and for Noureddine Bedoui to stand down as interim prime minister.