Category Archives: North Africa – People’s Democratic Republic Of Algeria 🇩🇿

Abdelmadjid Tebboune free Dozens from prison.

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Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune called for the dissolution of parliament and early legislative elections on Thursday.

In an address to the nation, the Head of State expressed his decision to carry out ministerial reshuffle within 48 hours at most.

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He announced:

“I have decided to dissolve the National People’s Assembly to call for elections that are free of money, whether it comes from corruption or not, and to open the doors to young people.”

Tebboune also announced an amnesty for dozens of jailed activists of the ‘Hirak’ protest movement — which swept former strongman Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power in 2019.

The leader stated that around 30 members will be granted a presidential pardon.

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“I decided to grant presidential pardon to about thirty people, for whom a decision had been given and others for whom no verdict had been reached. Between 55 and 60 people will be joining their families from this evening or tomorrow.”

Tebboune, who has previously expressed dissatisfaction with the cabinet of Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad, made the announcements as the North African nation’s government faces multiple challenges — political and economic crises compounded by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

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#Newsworthy

Abdelmadjid returns after post-covid surgery in Germany.

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Algeria has recorded over 110,000 cases including over 2,900 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune returned home Friday after a one-month stay in Germany for surgery following post-Covid-19 complications in his foot, state television said.

“The President of the Republic, Supreme Chief of the Armed Forces and Minister of Defence, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, returned today,” the state broadcaster said, but did not broadcast images of his arrival.

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Tebboune, 75, had been hospitalised in Germany last year after contracting Covid-19, and stayed there for two months before returning to Algeria.

He returned to Germany on January 10, and underwent a “successful” operation on his foot 10 days later, according to the presidency.

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Algeria has recorded over 110,000 cases including over 2,900 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

On the eve of his return, Tebboune had called German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to thank him for the medical care he had received.

Among the key issues that await him include the development of the new electoral law ahead of anticipated local and legislative elections slated to be held by the end of the year.

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A government reshuffle is also expected.

Tebboune won office in December 2019, eight months after the popular Hirak protest movement swept out his ailing predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Tebboune’s initial convalescence in Germany had reminded many Algerians of octogenarian Bouteflika’s frequent hospitalisations abroad.

Tebboune’s return comes amid tension in the North African nation ahead of the second anniversary of the launch of the Hirak protests on February 22.

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Hirak protesters continued after Bouteflika’s fall, demanding a full overhaul of the ruling system in place since the Algeria’s 1962 independence from France.

However, social distancing rules to stem the coronavirus pandemic meant that protesters had to halt their street rallies early last year.

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#Newsworthy

Algeria protesters begin constitutional reform campaign.

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Protesters demanded radical changes to the entire state system they revile as undemocratic and corrupt.

Algeria launched its campaign Wednesday for constitutional reforms for a “New Republic” that the government hopes will satisfy a popular protest movement — to the apparent indifference of many.

The constitutional changes, a flagship initiative of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, are set to be put to a referendum on November 1, the anniversary of the start of Algeria’s 1954-1962 war of independence from France.

“November 1954: liberation, November 2020: change,” the official campaign slogan reads.

But many ordinary Algerians — struggling during a deep economic crisis that has seen unemployment soar — appear sceptical it will make any meaningful difference.

“What change are we talking about? Nothing has changed with these people in power,” said Ali, a former trade union official.

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Popular anti-government demonstrations led by the Hirak — meaning in Arabic, “the movement” — pushed ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power last year.

In a bid to shore up his mandate, Bouteflika’s successor Tebboune pledged to revise the constitution and allow people to approve or reject proposals in a referendum.

But some see the referendum as a cynical way for the government to appear to bring change while maintaining its power. “They want to steal the hopes born from Hirak,” Ali added.

While the referendum was mentioned on radio and television stations, there were no campaign posters seen on the streets of Algiers.

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“Why vote for a project to which I do not have access?” said elderly Algerian Brahim Bahmed, complaining that the “promised broad debate did not take place”.

“It’s hard to imagine popular enthusiasm during the campaign,” said political scientist Mansour Kedidir, noting that ordinary citizens “care more about the precariousness of life than the rhetoric of reform.”

Opposition parties are themselves divided, with some calling for people to vote against the changes, and others to boycott the referendum entirely.

“Abstention risks being… the main winner and a crisis of legitimacy its logical consequence,” said Louisa Dris-Ait-Hamadouche, a lecturer from the University of Algiers.


#Newsworthy…

Khaled Drareni: Protest erupt in Algeria seeking release of Journalist.

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For the second week in a row, hundreds of people took the streets in Algiers in protest demanding the release of Khaled Drareni.

The journalist was sentenced to three years in prison and has since become a symbol of the fight for press freedom.

Imprisoned near Algiers since 29 March, Drareni is due to be retried on appeal on 8 September.

An international campaign of support and demonstrations in favour of his release were recently organised in Paris, New York and Geneva.

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A petition launched in Algeria has gathered some 2,000 signatures from journalists and civil society personalities and Khaled Drareni has received the support of many Algerian artists, such as singer Amel Zen.

In recent months, authorities have accused journalists of threatening the “national interest” and many have been to prison for it.

Reporters Without Borders recently denounced the deteriorating context for press freedom in Algeria

It ranked the country 146th (out of 180) in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, down 27 places from 2015.


#Newsworthy…