Algerians call for end to political system in ongoing protests

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People carry hung effigees with the faces of Algerian businessman Ali Haddad and former prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia, during a protest to push for the removal of the current political structure, in Algiers, Algeria April 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People carry hung effigees with the faces of Algerian businessman Ali Haddad and former prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia, during a protest to push for the removal of the current political structure, in Algiers, Algeria April 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Thousands of protesters in Algeria have taken to the street for a seventh successive Friday, calling for a complete overhaul of the political system.

Tuesday’s resignation of long-serving President Abdelaziz Bouteflika did little to satisfy demonstrators, who gathered in the capital to push for the removal of the entire political structure.

Bouteflika, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013, is widely considered as figurehead for a group built around the ruling party, army officers, businessmen, unions and veterans of a 1954-62 independence war against France.

The ongoing protests come as Algeria’s spy chief, Athmane Tartag, was reported fired in a further sign of high-level turmoil following the resignation of the country’s veteran president.

Tartag was a close ally of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who quit on Tuesday under pressure from the army.

The military said it was acting in the national interest following weeks of anti-government demonstrations.

Tartag’s departure was reported by the private Ennahar TV, who added that his powerful intelligence position, currently under the authority of the presidency, would return to the supervision of the defence ministry.

No replacement for Tartag has been announced.

The intelligence service was an important component of the military’s powerful influence in national affairs and played a backroom role in politics as well as in the 1990s civil war.

But in 2016 Bouteflika, removed it from the supervision of the defence ministry and placed it under the authority of the presidency to try to ease it out of the political sphere.

Algeria is now in the hands of a caretaker government, which will stay in office until elections expected in three months time. No clear successor to Bouteflika has emerged.

In the weeks before Bouteflika’s resignation, his inner circle was depleted by the resignation of several of his close allies from influential positions in politics and business.

 

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