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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Algerian Activist: There Would Be No Risk, Army Backs People

ALGIERS – An Algerian human rights activist told EFE on Sunday of his optimism for the political situation in the North African nation, saying the army and the security services would secure a risk-free transition period having already sided with the popular demand that the current president and the regime step down.

Speaking with EFE at his office in central Algiers, lawyer Mustapha Bouchachi said the military institution along with the political opposition and civil society would work together to find the right people to implement the demand of protesters, who have been taking the streets in huge numbers for over a month.

“There will be no risk,” Bouchachi said. “There was a risk when the protests began, but now the security services have decided not to use force against marches.”

Protests against the ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, first broke out among soccer fans at matches several months ago, before spilling on to the streets of the capital and spreading to other cities in February.

“It is clear that the military institution, which has always stood with the people, is going to find a man or men who are not tainted with corruption or fraud,” the activist said.

He also added that there would be a group of people who would name “a prime minister accepted by Algerians, who will form a limited cabinet that is to organize the elections.”

“I think there have been various transition periods and they have been easy,” Bouchachi said. “Our fellow citizens, our intellectuals and the political class are aware. Everyone agreed that this transition period should see a national unity government, whose task will be to make a call for the elections.”

Meanwhile, newly appointed prime minister, Noureddine Bedoui – a former interior minister – and his deputy prime minister, Ramtane Lamamra, have yet to successfully form a unity government and stabilize the increasingly volatile political situation.

Appointed by Bouteflika on March 11, Bedoui and Lamamra have called on civil society organizations and trade unions to work in consultation with the government, but many of these groups have openly sided with the demonstrators against the state.

“We refuse to talk to these people,” Bouchachi said, referring to Bedoui’s cabinet.

“It was his security services, his police, which pursued, arrested and imprisoned hundreds of young bloggers for the simple reason that they talked about the regime, these people are the symbol of a corrupt system,” the famed lawyer said.

“It’s a divorce,” Bouchachi expressed. “How can you govern or feel good governing when the people say to you with the same voice: ‘go away, you have ruined the country, and you have pushed our young people, doctors, engineers to abandon it’,” he added.

The activist also stressed that it is not Bouteflika, but his close associates, those who actually rule the country during the last 20 years, due to the long-serving president’s deteriorating health.

Bouteflika renounced his bid for a fifth term in office on March 11 but also postponed the presidential elections scheduled for April 18, a move seen by many in the North African country as an attempt to extend his and his supporters’ rule.

As the protests kicked off, the president traveled for what state-run media called a routine checkup in a Switzerland hospital, where he stayed for weeks, returning home to Algeria on March 10.

While he was hospitalized out of the country, Bouteflika’s campaign manager and the country’s transportation minister, Abdeghani Zalene, submitted the president’s name for election, a move later made null and void following the president’s announcement not to run.

Since his return, Bouteflika has been in seclusion at Zeralda Presidential Palace on the outskirts of Algiers.

The president has rarely made public appearances since he suffered a stroke in 2013 but he managed to win his fourth term in office in the 2014 election.


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