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Algerian Students Vow to Continue Demonstrations Until Regime’s Departure

Algerian Students Vow to Continue Demonstrations Until Regime’s Departure

Wednesday, 21 August, 2019 - 09:00
Some of the student demonstrations in Algiers on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 (Reuters)
Algiers- Asharq Al-Awsat
Nearly 1,000 students demonstrated on Tuesday for the 26th week in a row in Algeria.

The peaceful protests took place amid a massive police deployment while students were demanding a “democratic” state and the release of those arrested during protests since February 22.

Notably, universities are still closed for the summer holidays, but Tuesday’s move was broader and larger than those in the past weeks.

Demonstrators vowed to continue their marches until the regime’s departure, chanting slogans and patriotic songs, targeting the army’s leadership, which has become the country’s decision-making center since April 2, after the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

They addressed Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah and demanded the departure of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui. Those three figures were supporters of Bouteflika throughout his 20-year rule.

“Despite the hot weather and the summer holiday, we are here in masses to stress that nothing will stop us as long as Bouteflika’s regime is still ruling,” Yassine, 23, told AFP.

Like every Tuesday, demonstrators reiterated their rejection of the dialogue proposed by the authorities and raised slogans against Karim Younes, former speaker of the People's National Assembly, who was chosen to coordinate the National Commission for Dialogue and Mediation.

In this context, Cheb Mohamed, a student in the sociology department, considered that “the dialogue commission doesn’t listen to the popular demands," refusing Bouteflika’s supporters to organize upcoming elections.

Addressing people, Bedoui considered that “a serious and wide dialogue, without exclusion” is a mean to “guarantee Algerian people’s right to choose their president as soon as possible” and “achieve their goals.”

On the other hand, Algerian authorities deported a Human Rights Watch official on Monday without justification.

Authorities detained him for 10 hours and seized his passports for 10 days before deporting him.

Ahmed Benchemsi, the Middle East communications and advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, had been in Algeria since August 1 on the organization’s behalf.

The police detained him on August 9 while he was observing the 25th consecutive Friday pro-democracy demonstration in downtown Algiers.

They held him without allowing him to contact anyone, confiscated his cellphone and laptop computer and ordered him to provide his passwords to unlock both devices, which he refused to do.

Benchemsi “was in Algiers simply doing his job observing human rights conditions,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

“His arbitrary arrest and mistreatment send the message that authorities don’t want the world to know about the mass protests for more democracy in Algeria,” he noted.

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