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  • Algerian protesters shout slogans and carry the national flag during a demonstration in Algiers, Algeria, 23 July 2019.

    Algerian protesters shout slogans and carry the national flag during a demonstration in Algiers, Algeria, 23 July 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 23 July 2019
Opinion

The three-months mandate of the interim government has expired, without it calling for elections, leaving the country in a power void.

Hundreds of students marched Tuesday through the center of Algiers, the capital of Algeria, to demand a civilian government, protests which they have carried out every Tuesday since Feb. 22, when protests broke out against the government of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

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In the morning, the students arrived at the Grand Post square, which had been closed by the police for alleged works, through nearby streets and concentrated on the Audin square.

"We want a civilian and non-military state; we want a civil state instead of a police state," was one dominant shout at the march.

Students also demanded freedom for political prisoners and asked for the resignation of Ahmed Gaed Salah, the country's army chief of staff, who has come out as the most powerful politician after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika left office on April 2.

Algeria is caught in a political impasse which has perpetuated an apparent "power vacuum" in the presidency amid a dialogue initiative that has not satisfied organizers of the protests.

Launched by the Civil Forum for Change, this proposal seeks a solution to the crisis through dialogue among 13 prominent Algerians and the three-month transition government headed by Abdelkader Bensalah.

The Algerian crisis deepened when the interim government's three-month mandate ended two weeks ago without announcing a date for the next presidential elections.

While the army considers that the Bensalah government is still in force, Algerian lawyers and politicians hold that the country is in the midst of power vacuum because the constitution does not allow for an interim government to continue. 

The students also criticized Salah's "Clean Hands" campaign, which has imprisoned businessmen, politicians, ministers, high-ranking army officers, two former prime ministers and the brother of former president Bouteflika.

Despite these achievements in the fight against corruption, Algerians consider that such campaign is just a "witch hunt" led by Salah to take hold of power and try to distance himself from the Bouteflika government, in which he was appointed the head of the army in 2004.

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