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.


Egypt unfreezes assets of Mubarak-era interior minister

Updated 8 min 47 sec ago
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Egypt unfreezes assets of Mubarak-era interior minister

  • The ex-interior minister was accused of systemic torture and repression of dissent
  • He was sentenced for seven years of prison in 2017

CAIRO: Egypt has unfrozen the assets of its Mubarak-era interior minister, who was acquitted on all corruption-related charges earlier this month, a judicial source confirmed Sunday.

The Illicit Gains Authority decided last Thursday to lift freezes on Habib Al-Adly’s assets and those of aides who were key players in the graft that dominated Egypt under long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

“He is free to walk, with no cases or charges against him at the moment,” the judicial source told AFP.

Adly’s behemoth security apparatus was accused of systematic torture and repression of dissent, helping fuel the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak.

In May, a court fined the former minister about $29 on charges of abusing public funds.

Adly was sentenced in April 2017 to seven years in prison along with 10 other former officials, for embezzling about $122 million.

But his case was thrown out, with the court citing procedural errors, and a retrial was ordered last year.

In 2014, Adly was acquitted of charges of responsibility for the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising.