Algerians demonstrate for removal of the ruling elite

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With banners reading “You all go” and “We need new figures”, thousands of protesters gathered in the Algerian capital in what is a regular demonstration demanding removal of the ruling elite.

After 20 years in power, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika quit on April 2 under pressure from protesters and the army, but protests continue, seeking political reforms and removal of officials part of the old guard.

Last week was the 16th consecutive Friday protesters took part in a mass rally since February 22. More people were expected to join after Friday prayers.

The demonstrators are pushing for radical change and want the departure of senior figures, including politicians and businessmen, who governed the North African country since independence from France in 1962.

Last week interim President Abdelkader Bensalah called for all parties to launch an “inclusive dialogue” to prepare for presidential elections, following the constitutional council’s scrapping of a vote set for July 4.

Bensalah is leading the transition as upper house speaker. He was initially elected by parliament for 90 days until elections planned for July 4. No new date has been set, to the anger of protesters.

Bensalah said he would stay in power until a new president was elected, despite calls from protesters for him to quit.

One banner held up by protesters read: “Bensalah go.”

The army, the country’s most powerful institution, met a number of protesters’ demands including launching anti-graft probes against people suspected of misuse of power and public funds.

Last month, Bouteflika’s youngest brother, Said, and two former intelligence chiefs were placed in custody by a military judge over allegations of “harming the army’s authority and plotting against state authority”.

At least five businessmen, including the country’s richest man, Issad Rebrab, were detained for alleged involvement in corruption scandals.