Thousands of Algerian protesters gather in central Algiers: witnesses

Algerians gather for a demonstration in Algiers, Friday, March 8, 2019. They were then challenging Bouteflika’s fitness to run for a fifth term in next month’s election. (File/AP)
Updated 22 March 2019
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Thousands of Algerian protesters gather in central Algiers: witnesses

  • “Rain will not stop us from continuing our pressure,” said a protester
  • Protest numbers have grown dramatically after prayers on the three previous Fridays during the series of demonstrations that kicked off on Feb. 22

ALGIERS: The number of protesters gathered in central Algiers to demand the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika swiftly swelled into the thousands on Friday, a Reuters reporter on the scene said.
Crowds were growing even before Friday prayers had started after which even bigger numbers are expected to join to protest.

Earlier, hundreds of Algerians took to the streets of the capital to demand President Abdelaziz Bouteflika quit immediately.
Protesters gathered in the city center defying rain, carrying Algerian flags and pamphlets, gathering in the same spot where a wave of demonstrations erupted a month ago.
“Rain will not stop us from continuing our pressure,” said 23-year old Ahmed Khoudja.
Bouteflika, who has ruled for 20 years, bowed to the protesters last week by reversing plans to stand for a fifth term. But he has stopped short of stepping down and said he would stay in office until a new constitution is adopted, effectively extending his present term.
His move has failed to appease Algerians, who want veterans of the 1954-62 independence war against France who dominate the establishment to quit so a new generation of leaders can take over and begin to create jobs, fight corruption and introduce greater freedoms.
Protest numbers have grown dramatically after prayers on the three previous Fridays during the series of demonstrations that kicked off on Feb 22.
“We stay here until the whole system goes,” said Mahmoud Timar, a 37-year old teacher.
Leaders have emerged from the protest movement, offering an alternative to Bouteflika’s political roadmap to what he says will be a new Algeria. But they have not yet built up enough momentum to force him to quit or make more concessions.
The military, which wields enormous power from behind the scenes, has remained on the sidelines, and is seen as unlikely to intervene as long as the protests remain peaceful.


Australia joins US-led mission to protect Hormuz shipping

Updated 57 min 47 sec ago
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Australia joins US-led mission to protect Hormuz shipping

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday that Australia will contribute troops
  • An Australian warship will be redirected from an anti-piracy operation in the Middle East

CANBERRA, Australia: Australia has joined Britain and Bahrain in signing onto a US-led maritime security mission to protect international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday that Australia will contribute troops, a surveillance plane and a Navy frigate to protect shipping lanes off the coast of Iran.
He says it’s a “modest, meaningful and time-limited” contribution in Australia’s national and economic interests.
At least 15 percent of crude oil and up to 30 percent of refined oil destined for Australia transits through the Arabian Gulf.
The warship will be redirected from an anti-piracy operation in the Middle East, while the Australian troops will be based in the headquarters that are coordinating the US-led maritime security mission.
Initially, Australia will be involved for at least six months.