Arrests in Algeria ahead of weekly protests

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Algerian demonstrators, draped in national flags, stand in front of security forces during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 24, 2019. (AFP)
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An Algerian demonstrator gestures in front of security forces during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 24, 2019. (AFP)
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Algerian protesters shout slogans during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 24, 2019. (AFP)
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Algerian protesters take part in an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 24, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 May 2019
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Arrests in Algeria ahead of weekly protests

  • Several hundred protesters gathered near the Grand Post Office on Friday, but they were kept at bay by a police cordon and a row of vehicles
  • Local news site TSA reported police in Algiers made “massive arrests among the protesters”

ALGIERS: Algerian police arrested dozens of people on Friday at the Grand Post Office, a key rallying point for protesters in the capital Algiers, witnesses and journalists said.
An AFP journalist saw a woman arrested near the post office, where security fences were erected this week in an attempt to prevent demonstrators accessing the site.
Several hundred protesters gathered near the building on Friday, but they were kept at bay by a police cordon and a row of vehicles.
“Patrols criss-crossed the city and arrested anyone suspected of joining the rally,” Said Salhi, vice president of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, said on Twitter.
“It seems they (the authorities) want to ban the rally,” he added.
The protest movement forced president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down on April 2, after two decades in power.
But rallies — now into a fourteenth week — have continued each Friday, to pressure army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and others to leave office.
“Tired of the generals!,” “Gaid Salah resign!,” protesters chanted Friday.
Mehenna Abdeslam, a protester and a university teacher, told AFP he witnessed “the police systematically arrest anyone carrying a banner.”
But “we will not stop” demonstrating, he added.
Local news site TSA reported police in Algiers made “massive arrests among the protesters.”
It also noted a heavy presence of female police officers, for the first time since the protests began.
A presidential election that was originally due to take place in April is scheduled for July 4, but the protest movement wants the poll scrapped, in the absence of new independent institutions to oversee voting.


Iran ‘never seeks war’ with US: Rouhani

Updated 2 min 52 sec ago
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Iran ‘never seeks war’ with US: Rouhani

  • ‘Iran has no interest to increase tension in the region and it never seeks war with any country, including (the) US’

TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani said Iran “never seeks war” with the US, state media reported Wednesday amid a spike in tensions between the two countries.

“Iran has no interest to increase tension in the region and it never seeks war with any country, including (the) US,” the president said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

Rouhani was speaking by phone to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, as Tehran and Washington engaged in an escalating war of words following Iran shooting down a US drone last week.

“We have always been committed to regional peace and stability and will make efforts in this respect,” the Iranian president told Macron.

US President Donald Trump said he pulled back from retaliatory strikes on Iran at the last minute, rejecting Tehran’s claim that the aircraft was in its airspace.

But pressure mounted this week with Trump announcing sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader and top officials.

The new measures are the latest against Tehran since Trump pulled out of a landmark nuclear accord between Iran and world powers.

Rouhani blamed the United States for regional tensions Wednesday and said if Washington had stuck to the deal “we would have witnessed positive developments in the region.”

Iran announced in May it would suspend two of its pledges under the 2015 deal, giving the agreement’s remaining supporters two months to help it circumvent US sanctions.

On Tuesday Tehran’s top security official said Iran would “forcefully” reduce further commitments from July 7.