Algeria witnesses widespread ‘Hirak’ pro-government protests
Middle East & Africa

Algeria witnesses widespread ‘Hirak’ pro-government protests

In renewed Hirak-led demonstrations, thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets in Algeria’s capital on Friday, demanding sweeping changes in the political system of the country. Defying Coronavirus protocols, protesters raised slogans and banners and aloft the national flag as they called for an independent judiciary and an end to the military’s dominance on the governance of the country.

“We want an independent judiciary. The injustice must stop!” chanted thousands of demonstrators, marching across the streets of Algiers and other cities including Annaba and Oran.

Last month, Algerians revived the pro-democracy Hirak movement as they staged protests across several parts of the North African country to demand an overhaul of the governance system. Several demonstrators are rejecting the early legislative elections announced by President AbdelmadjidTebboune.

In February, President Tebboune dissolved the National Popular Assembly and announced early legislative elections to take place on June 12, 2021. Responding to the protests, the President further promised government reshuffle and major reforms in the political system of the country.

“I have tried as much as possible to appoint new ministers. I have honored this commitment by appointing young ministers and five ministers who were Hirak activists and whose work on the ground begins to give results,” Tebboune said in early March after a government reshuffle.

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Algeria was scheduled to witness its next legislative elections in 2022 after a five-year term of its existing parliament appointed in May 2017. However, Tebboune called for early polls before the end of the term as part of reforms in the political system.

According to a statement issued by the President’s office, the upcoming elections will take place on the basis of a new electoral law which will be ratified by Tebboune. As per reports, for the first time in Algeria’s political history, an open list system will be adopted for selecting candidates in the upcoming vote.

Significantly, the Hirak movement first broke out in February 2019 against the then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, forcing him to renounce his bid for a fifth term in office in April. Responding to Bouteflika’s resignation, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had called it “an important page in the history of Algeria.”

In a late 2019 presidential election amid widespread protests, former Prime Minister AbdelmadjidTebboune was elected as the new president of the North African nation. Hundreds of Algerians boycotted the December 2019 elections, calling it a “charade”.

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