Algerians flood streets to mark movement’s first birthday

Updated February 22, 2020

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Algiers: Demonstrators carry flags and gesture during an anti-government protest in Algiers on Friday.—Reuters
Algiers: Demonstrators carry flags and gesture during an anti-government protest in Algiers on Friday.—Reuters

ALGIERS: Algerians flooded the capital’s streets on Friday to mark the first anniversary of a protest movement that has forced the president to quit but still clamours for the complete overhaul of the political system.

Protesters had called on Algerians to mobilise to “disqualify the system’s agenda of self-renewal and to lay the foundations for a new republic”.

A year ago on Feb 22, Algerians took to the streets to demonstrate against ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term and have kept up their protests since.

By noon on the 53rd consecutive Friday of demonstrations, thousands of protesters, including women and children, gathered in front of the Grande Poste in central Algiers before marching in the capital.

Anti-riot police were deployed, but did not disperse the crowd, which chanted “we’re not going to stop”, journalists reported.

A huge crowd of demonstrators linked up with the rally outside the central post office after setting off from the working class district of Bab El Oued, reporters said.

“We have not come to party, we have come to get rid of you,” they chanted, in reference to politicians deemed corrupt and inefficient. “The people want the fall of the regime.”

Checkpoints were installed on roads into the city, according to social media posts, complicating access to the commemoration for Algerians outside the capital.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020