Algeria: Calls for Prosecuting Bouteflika’s Associates

Tuesday, 26 March, 2019 - 08:45
Algiers - Boualem Goumrassa

Algerian lawyers called on the Attorney General to open an investigation into suspicions of corruption involving regime officials, meanwhile, protests continued in the capital and all over the country to pressure President Abdelaziz Bouteflika into stepping down before the end of his fourth term.

Renowned lawyer and political activist, Mokrane Ait Larbi, appealed to the Attorney General saying the ongoing protests in the country are calling for prosecuting officials involved in corruption who destroyed Algeria’s economy.

The statement, which Asharq Al-Awsat received a copy of, noted that the Attorney General should open an investigation against those who stole the people's money and bring them to justice.

Larbi addressed the Attorney General saying that corrupted figures are known to everyone, asking him to prevent them from leaving the country and to bring them to justice.

The attorney, who was the campaign manager of presidential candidate retired general Ali Ghadiri, warned that “corruption heads” must be put on trial before it is too late.

It is noteworthy that Bouteflika canceled the parliamentary elections scheduled for 18 of April and dissolved the government.

Larbi did not specify the alleged corrupt figures, but the names mentioned by protesters every Friday are of the president's close associates, most notably businessman Ali Haddad, who financed his previous electoral campaigns, billionaire Reza Koninav, son of Bouteflika's friend during the Liberation Revolution, and Mahieddine Tahkout, the owner of an automobile assembly company.

Algiers’ lawyers' union, which has about 2,000 lawyers, issued a statement on suspicious banking transactions currently involving the transfer of large sums of money which resulted from contracts and deals that are not for the public’s best interest.

The head of the union, Abdul Majid Sellini, called on the Governor of the Central Bank to safeguard the “money of the Algerian people”. He also asked for strict measures on all transactions and bank operations to prevent all attempts aimed at smuggling public funds.

He urged the Central Bank’s governor and all heads of banking institutions to refrain from passing and paying all transactions or business transactions that serve special interests.

Over the past few days, various newspapers reported that “close associates of the president” including former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, have been selling their properties to transfer their money abroad. The reports indicated that they are motivated by fear of confiscation in the event of the toppling of the regime.

Many businessmen want to leave the country, the newspapers explained, adding that rumors on social media had been circulating that various figures of the regime had been banned from leaving the country.

Meanwhile, Former Prime Minister Mouloud Hamrouche announced that he refused to participate in a “transitional phase” proposed by activists in preparation for the presidential elections.

National Liberation Front (FLN) former sec-gen Amar Saadani, previously suggested three names to lead the transitional period: Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Abdelaziz Belkhadem, as well as Hamrouche.

Saadani claimed that Ouyahia and his associates are the “architects of the fifth term”, indicating the former PM was the one who wrote Bouteflika’s letters and statements, which were attributed to the President.

The former sec-gen also said that the former intelligence services, dissolved in 2015, is the actual body governing the country through Ouyahia.

In this context, thousands of public servants and government employees took to the streets of the capital and large cities to protest the president's governance.

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