Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Algerian Hirak celebrates two years in the face of continuing repression – rts.ch


Two years after its launch, the Algerian popular protest movement Hirak is still under heavy repression. Despite some concessions at the end of the week, President Abdemadjid Tebboune is staying the course.

Triggered on February 22, 2019, the Hirak had pushed President Bouteflika, in power for two decades, to resign two months later. Last year, this unprecedented popular protest movement in Algeria had to suspend its weekly demonstrations due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Two years later, the movement is still totally determined, despite a repression that has not weakened. For this anniversary, Algiers was squared by the police on Monday, after calls for demonstrations launched on the internet. Police blockades have been set up on several roads leading to the capital. Helicopters also fly over the city.

A disappointing cabinet reshuffle

The authorities have little changed their position, despite a few appeasement gestures. President Abdemadjid Tebboune thus proceeded on Sunday to a reshuffle of his government, promised and eagerly awaited, but which shows no major team change (see box).

Before flying to Berlin at the beginning of last January, to be treated there for post-Covid “complications”, Abdemadjid Tebboune had however publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the government action.

In a speech to the Nation on Thursday evening, he also announced the dissolution of the National People’s Assembly (lower house of Parliament) and the organization of early local and legislative elections within six months to deal with the triple political crisis , economic and health which shakes Algeria.

The same day, the head of state also decreed a presidential pardon in favor of some sixty prisoners of conscience. Since then, nearly 40 prisoners have been released, including the opponent Rachid Nekkaz and the journalist Khaled Drareni, who has become a symbol of the fight for press freedom.

>> Read: Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni released with other prisoners of conscience

afp / oang





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