Chronology of protests that led to ouster of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Updated 05 April 2019
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Chronology of protests that led to ouster of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika

ALGIERS: Here is a timeline of the political drama in the north African nation:

• On Feb. 22, tens of thousands of people demonstrate in several cities in the first major protests against Bouteflika’s candidacy in planned April 18 elections. After rallying calls on social media, thousands turn out to chant “No fifth mandate!” — including in Algiers, where demonstrations have been banned since 2001. Police fire tear gas to block a march on the presidential palace, prompting some demonstrators to respond by throwing stones.

• On Feb. 26, thousands of students rally peacefully in Algiers. Two days later, a dozen journalists are detained for several hours as they participate in a rally against alleged censorship of protest coverage.

• On March 1, tens of thousands protest across the country, including in second and third cities Oran and Constantine. In Algiers, some protesters chant: “Regime murderers!“

• On March 2, Bouteflika, in Switzerland for nearly a week undergoing “routine medical checks,” sacks his veteran campaign manager. The next day, state television airs a letter from the president in which he vows not to serve a full term if re-elected, and to organize early polls in which he will not stand. Shortly afterward, his new campaign manager formally submits the president’s candidacy, just ahead of the deadline.

• On March 5, as thousands march again, the army chief pledges to guarantee national security, accusing unidentified groups of wanting a return to the “painful years” of Algeria’s 1992-2002 civil war.

• Bouteflika on March 7 warns of “chaos” if troublemakers infiltrate the demonstrations.

• On March 8, tens of thousands in several cities take part in the biggest rallies yet against Bouteflika’s candidacy.

• On March 10, Bouteflika returns from Switzerland. The next day, he pulls out of the race and cancels the elections. “There will not be a fifth term,” he announces on official media. Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui is named prime minister, replacing unpopular premier Ahmed Ouyahia.

• On March 15, a huge crowd marches through Algiers for a fourth consecutive Friday, demanding Bouteflika’s departure. Major protests rock other key cities.

• On March 18, Bouteflika issues a statement confirming he will stay on as president beyond the end of his term on April 28 and until new elections are held, following a constitutional review.

• On March 22, exactly a month after the protests started, hundreds of thousands of Algerians again stage demonstrations across the country.

• On March 26 army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah demands Bouteflika step down or be declared medically unfit to rule. A day later the ruling party’s long-time coalition ally, the National Rally for Democracy (RND) of former Prime Minister Ouyahia, says it “recommends the resignation of the president.”

• On March 28, the president of Algeria’s Business Leaders Forum, Ali Haddad, close to Bouteflika, resigns. The next day, hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters throng the streets of Algiers and other cities. Demonstrators say top loyalists’ moves to abandon Bouteflika do not go far enough.

• On March 31, Bouteflika names a new government headed by Bedoui. Salah, the armed forces chief who has called for the president to step down, remains as deputy defense minister.

• On April 1, a statement on state media says Bouteflika will resign before his mandate expires on April 28.

• On Tuesday, Salah demands immediate impeachment proceedings against Bouteflika. Shortly afterward, state television reports that the president has informed the Constitutional Council that he is resigning effective immediately.

• On Wednesday, the Constitutional Council officially accepts his resignation and informs Parliament that his post is vacant. The new government makes a series of conciliatory moves toward the press, opposition, NGOs and unions. Bouteflika apologizes to the Algerian people, in a letter published by state media, but says he is “proud” of his contribution.


Dead body business attracts medics, drug dealers in Egypt

Egyptian Christians stand outside St. Markos Church in Minya, south of Cairo, Egypt, in this Jan. 6, 2015 file photo. (AP)
Updated 46 min 13 sec ago
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Dead body business attracts medics, drug dealers in Egypt

  • Some of the gravediggers remove tissues and grease from the bones by boiling them to remove their odor before selling them to students

CAIRO: The Egyptian Orthodox Church has issued a statement condemning the theft of the body of the Patriarch Gerges, son of priest Ibrahim Al-Basit, from his family’s burial place in the Minya governorate.
Last Saturday, the cemetery was opened and Al-Basit’s body was stolen. The crime of stealing the bodies of the dead has recently spread across Egypt, especially while the sanctity of the body remains preserved. It is also common for the remains to be collected two years after the burial.
Last October, a gang was arrested after stealing bodies from their graves. An investigation has revealed that the main defendant sold the bodies to medical students for practical learning.
Some of the gravediggers remove tissues and grease from the bones by boiling them to remove their odor before selling them to students.
The investigation found that the defendant had put a price on various limbs. The leg and the arm were priced at 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($180), the skull cost 5,000 pounds and the whole body was worth 20,000 pounds.
Ashraf Farahat, a legal expert and lawyer, said that Egyptian law demands up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of 100-500 pounds for criminals who violate the sanctity of graves.
Yasser Sayed Ahmed, a legal expert and lawyer, said he knew of many cases where cemetery guards and assistants help people access graves for superstitious reasons in exchange for large sums of money.
The majority of these cases are happening with the help of the guards of the tombs. They exhume graves at night to extract the bodies and separate the organs to sell bones and skulls. They often sell them to drug dealers by grinding and mixing some materials for sale at high prices.