Algerians say no to elections held by 'guerrilla government'

Algerians say no to elections held by 'guerrilla government'
Amid a growing security crackdown, Algerians continue to protest against December elections that they say will favour the military establishment and impede real democratic reform.
2 min read
20 September, 2019
Algerians protest under an increased security presence on Friday [Getty]
Algerians took to the streets in large numbers on Friday protesting against presidential elections run by the military establishment, scheduled for December, which many see as a threat to democratic reform. 

Friday marks the 31st consecutive week of the protest movement which successfully toppled octogenarian autocrat Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April, however protesters continue to call for the removal of the remaining elements of the old guard.

Hundreds gathered in Algiers' Maurice Audin Square waving enormous national flags and shouting slogans demanding: "a civilian state, not a military one," as well as "no elections under the guerrilla government".

Activist Sofyan Hadaj told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that the elections are being "imposed" on Algerians "in an attempt by the authorities to reinstate control from the inside, and prevent Algerians from achieving our ambition of serious and radical change towards democracy".

Protesters also demanded the immediate release of detained high-profile figures of the movement, including Karim Tabou, Samir Belarbi, Fodil Boumala and others.

The arrest of the three pro-democracy figures has spread fear among the protest movement who anticipate a crackdown led by army chief Gaid Salah, who has stepped in as strongman since Bouteflika's ouster.

Another activist at the protest, Mohammed Zamaly, said that the security crackdown is "aimed at intimidating Algerians in the protest movement".

"This police tactic is outdated and futile," Zamaly added. "Algerians lost their sense of fear in February and the authorities won’t be able to re-establish it."

Large numbers of security forces were deployed in the capital in anticipation of Friday’s demonstrations, with reports of several protesters being arrested.

Algeria’s Interim president Abdelkader Bensalah announced on Tuesday that elections would be held on December 12.

However demonstrators are demanding key regime figures step down and an overhaul of political institutions before any polls, arguing an election under the current framework would only reinforce the status quo.