Thousands of Algerian activists mark second year of protest

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ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) – Thousands of demonstrators marking the second anniversary of the Algerian pro-democracy movement took to the streets Monday in the Algerian capital where a wall of security the forces moved aside to let the marchers pass.

Protesters from the Hirak movement helped force longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power in 2019. Dozens of protesters have been arrested, but after marching for 53 consecutive Fridays, it is a formal ban on protests with the arrival of the coronavirus which forced the demonstrators to leave. the streets a year ago.

The reappearance of the protesters came days after President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, in a gesture of conciliation, released more than 30 jailed protesters, although dozens are still behind bars. The president also dissolved parliament to pave the way for new elections, among the demands of the Hirak movement.

“We did not come to celebrate but to free ourselves”, was among the cries of the demonstrators.

Activists are pushing for a complete overhaul of the opaque system governing Algeria, with the army in the shadows, which has been in charge since Algeria won its war of independence against France in 1962. demonstrators, defying the system, had taken the authorities by surprise.

Protesters took to the streets of many other cities after a large demonstration on Sunday in Béjaïa, a coastal town east of Algiers.

The police blocked main streets in central Algiers early Monday before stepping onto the sidewalks when protesters arrived. The flood of activists, men, women and children, invaded the streets of the capital, recalling the height of the Hirak movement.

“The protest is a right (in) our constitution, but due to COVID-19 special measures are needed,” Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum told Algerian state radio, apparently referring to security and stopping the marches for a year.

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