Algeria orders early university holiday as students spur protests

Algerian protesters clash with security forces in the capital Algiers on March 1, 2019, during protests against ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in power. (AFP)
Updated 09 March 2019
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Algeria orders early university holiday as students spur protests

  • The Higher Education Ministry’s decision came a day after tens of thousands of demonstrators packed central Algiers
  • Algerians desperate for jobs and angry at unemployment, corruption and an elderly elite seen as out of touch with the young have taken to the streets

ALGIERS: Algerian authorities on Saturday ordered an early start to the spring university holiday, an apparent attempt to weaken two weeks of student-led protests against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
The Higher Education Ministry’s decision came a day after tens of thousands of demonstrators packed central Algiers to challenge the veteran leader’s 20-year-old rule in the biggest protests in the capital in 28 years.
Without giving a reason for the move, the Ministry said in a decree that the spring break would be brought forward by 10 days, starting on Sunday instead of March 20.
Algerians desperate for jobs and angry at unemployment, corruption and an elderly elite seen as out of touch with the young have taken to the streets since Feb. 22 to protest the 82-year-old’s plans to seek a fifth term in an April 18 election.
Many of the demonstrations — the largest since 1991 when the army canceled elections Islamists were poised to win — started at university premises before spilling out onto the streets.
The ailing Bouteflika is in hospital in Geneva and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.
On Thursday he issued his first warning to protesters, saying the unrest, now entering its third week, could create chaos in the oil- and natural gas-producing North African country.
Bouteflika has offered to limit his term after the election and has vowed to change the “system” that runs the country, but the protest movement has galvanized discontent among different sectors, particularly students and young families.
Some long-time allies of Bouteflika, including members of the ruling party, have expressed support for the protesters, revealing cracks within a ruling elite long seen as invincible.
Friday’s protests were largely peaceful but some clashes between youths and police broke out in the evening and state media said 110 protesters and 112 policemen had been hurt in the unrest.


Iranian official in surprise visit to Lebanon

Updated 18 July 2019
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Iranian official in surprise visit to Lebanon

  • Some of the threats made by the Zionist enemy are not in favor of the region’s security, Abdollahian says

BEIRUT: “Lebanon must be kept out of all regional crises,” said Iran’s Shoura Council assistant speaker for international affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, during a surprise visit to Beirut on Wednesday.

“We say at the top of our voice that Iran and its allies will not allow the Zionist entity and the US to damage the region’s security.”

Following his meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Abdollahian said that Tehran “is convinced that the security of Lebanon is the security of the region and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Abdollahian added that “some of the threats made by the Zionist enemy are not in favor of the region’s security.”

He described his talks with Berri as “good and constructive.”

“We will not allow Israel, US to interfere with regional security.”

Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran’s Shoura Council official

Abdollahian said: “We have come today to reaffirm that Iran fully supports the people, army, resistance and government of Lebanon, and we look forward to developing relations between our two countries until they reach the highest levels.”

He said he believes that the statements of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are for “domestic consumption,” accusing him of “making some moves in the region that are not in his favor.”

Netanyahu responded to a message from Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday by threatening Hezbollah during Israel’s Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said: “Let me be clear that if Hezbollah dares to commit an act of stupidity and attack Israel, we will deal a crushing military blow on Lebanon. But unlike Nasrallah, I do not intend to detail our plans. It would be enough to recall that, for years, Nasrallah dug terror tunnels, and we demolished them within a few days.”