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  • Demonstrators hold flags and banners during peaceful anti-government protests in Algiers, Algeria, May 3, 2019.

    Demonstrators hold flags and banners during peaceful anti-government protests in Algiers, Algeria, May 3, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 May 2019

In an attempt to calm tensions, the interim government intensified its fight against corruption, arresting officials and businessmen linked to the prior administration.

A month after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's resignation, Algerians continue to demand substantial changes to the country's political system, as interim President Abdelkader Bensalah has failed to propose any measure capable of ending demonastrations.

Algerians Protest 10th Friday in a Row Demanding 'Clean' Gov't

For the past 11 weeks, thousands of people have been peacefully protesting each Friday in the main cities of Algeria. In Algiers, the capital, demonstrators rallied May 3, chanting phrases such as, "We won't shut up!", "We'll go to the end", "No to military power" and "Algeria, free and democratic."

After Bouteflika's resignation in early April, the acting head of state Abdelkader Bensalah, Prime Minister Nouredin Bedaui, and General Ahmed Gaid Salah have been trying to show the people a "new face of government," arresting several billionares and members of the Bouteflika administration. 

However, protesters aren't sold and see those now in power as too closely aligned with the previous government.

While there are different visions about what the future political scenario of the country should be, both the interim government and the opposition agree that dialogue is the path through the current impasse.

"It is imperative that we establish a climate of serenity and understanding ... in the quest for consensual solutions," Bensalah said Tuesday, vowing that he also wants significant changes within any new government.

In a May 1 statement, General Salah said: "I remain entirely convinced that adopting constructive dialogue with the institutions of the state, is the only way to exit from the crisis." 

The opposition National Liberation Front Party Secretary-General Ali Benflis affirmed that the dialogue is "a shared conviction", although the right conditions for it are to be created yet. This opinion is shared by others.

11th Friday: a citizen demands the departure of the entire Bouteflika ruling class. The photo's banner reads "The people got rid of the Fakhamatouhou reign, today it demands the departure of Hachiyatouhou."

"You can not make a dialogue by keeping the symbols of the current system. ... We can not start a dialogue with Bensalah, Bedoui or those who are responsible for our situation", said Youth Action Rally President Abdelouahab Fersaoui. The youth leader explained that those currently in power are manuevering to stay there and have not shown a "willingness to comply with population's clear and legitimate demands."

"We reject this system. It must end. The current government cannot guarantee a political transition," a 22-year-old student, Amine, told La Tribune, adding that he came from Tizi Ouzou, to city 100 km away from the capital, but managed to get through the barriers installed every Friday around Algiers to dispel protests.

"Algeria: new Friday of protests, the last before Ramadan."

Among those recently arrested for corruption are former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and former Central Bank Governor Mohamed Loukal, both of whom have been accused of "wasting public funds and (receiving) undue privileges." 

General Salah, who helped overthrow Bouteflika after having him declared unfit for office, affirmed Tuesday that “the country will be definitely free of the corrupt and the corrupting.”

Despite this promise, Algiers streets were shouting "General, your Tuesday speeches are contested by the people every Friday," EFE reported.

"We will continue to march during Ramadan to demand a transition period with clean people (in charge). We will not let up," said demonstrator, Zakia Benabdrahmane, in the capital. 

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