“It’s just awesome. ” Glasses on his nose, Mounir’s gaze is turned towards the compact crowd which darkens the bottom of rue Didouche-Mourad to Place Maurice-Audin, two emblematic places in Algiers. « Tomorrow there will be the student demonstration », assures this administrative employee who momentarily left his office to join the procession. As if the habits of the Hirak (“movement”) were resuming.
On Monday February 22, thousands of Algerians demonstrated in the streets of the capital, two years to the day after the first Algerian march of February 22, 2019, raising the curtain of a mobilization that was right for the candidacy of the ex-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has a fifth term before placing the regime on the defensive. A celebration ? Not quite, if we are to believe the slogans sung by the demonstrators. “We are not here to celebrate but for you to leave”chant men and women alike.
Fourteen months after the arrival of Abdelmadjid Tebboune to the presidency, the Algerians maintain the demands of the Hirak for a real change of system and a rule of law. “Tebboune is a fraud”, “Generals in the trash”, « The people demand independence », Shout the demonstrations under a fine rain.
In the morning, the security forces carried out dozens of arrests. ” It feels like “The Battle of Algiers” », loose a young man, in reference to the grid scenes of the Casbah in the film by Gillo Pontecorvo (1966). Identity checks and searches of bags are required in front of the roadblocks erected in several alleys leading to the places where protesters used to gather during the fifty-six weekly demonstrations recorded between February 2019 and March 2020, date of the suspension of the movement due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
The capital is squared
“I didn’t know we were going to be bombed today”, launches a woman who measures a policeman. In recent days, the inhabitants of the capital have become accustomed to the strong police presence, but on February 22, the security forces are feverish. The capital is squared on all sides. Access by road is difficult, and lines of police vans line the main streets of the city center as a helicopter spins noisily in the sky.
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