Algerian president seeks to calm social anger

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Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune at a press conference in Algiers on December 13, 2019. (Photo by Billal Bensalem/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Sunday urged his government to open “a dialogue” with social partners to appease mounting social anger.

Unemployment at 15 percent, soaring prices and shortages of basic food items have all added to the turmoil caused by a deep economic crisis due to the fall in oil revenues and political deadlock since the popular Hirak pro-democracy uprising two years ago.

During a cabinet meeting, Tebboune ordered “a dialogue with different social partners to improve the socio-professional situation”  of employees in the education and health sectors, a statement said.

Meanwhile, firefighters and other civil protection personnel marched in uniform not far from the headquarters of the Algerian presidency.

Firefighters took to social media to say that police broke up the demonstration with tear gas.

On Thursday, Algeria released on probation Karim Tabbou, a leading opposition activist, after his arrest the previous day.

The Hirak protest movement was sparked over president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in office.

The ailing autocrat was forced to step down weeks later, but the Hirak has continued its demonstrations, demanding a sweeping overhaul of a ruling system in place since Algeria’s independence from France in 1962.

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