Algerian protesters hold demonstrations despite arrests

An Algerian protester shouts slogans as riot police stand guard during the weekly Friday demonstration in Algiers. (AFP)
Updated 22 June 2019
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Algerian protesters hold demonstrations despite arrests

  • Algiers detains businessman Hassan Larbaoui in an anti-corruption investigation

ALGIERS: Hundreds of Algerian protesters gathered on Friday in the capital despite a spate of arrests ahead of the latest weekly rally since the April 2 resignation of longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, AFP correspondents said.
The demonstrators in central Algiers brandished the Algerian flag that has been a mainstay of the protests but some also carried the Berber colors despite a ban on the minority’s flag imposed this week by army chief Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, Algeria’s strongman since Bouteflika’s ouster.
“No to regionalism, we are all brothers,” the protesters chanted.
Police earlier detained dozens of demonstrators, especially those carrying the Berber colors, from around the capital’s main post office, the epicenter of demonstrations since they first broke out in February.
On previous Fridays since the fall of Bouteflika, those detained have been released at the end of the day.
Although the army chief has ordered a wave of anti-corruption investigations, demonstrators have kept up calls for his departure along with the entire regime that surrounded Bouteflika.

Businessman held
In a related development, Algeria has detained businessman Hassan Larbaoui in an anti-corruption investigation launched after protests ended the rule of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, state radio said on Friday.
Larbaoui is director of a private company called Global Group, which runs a car assembly plant set up in joint venture with South Korea’s Kia Motors.
Bouteflika stepped down on April 2 under pressure from the army after mass protests demanding an end to his 20-year rule and calls for his ruling elite to be held to account for corruption. The army, which now holds sway, has promised to act.
The court of first instance in Algiers ordered Larbaoui to be detained, along with the head of state bank Banque Nationale d’Algerie (BNA) and two industry ministry officials, state radio reported.

FASTFACT

• Police earlier detained dozens of demonstrators, especially those carrying the Berber colors.

• Although the army chief has ordered a wave of anti-corruption investigations, demonstrators have kept up calls for his departure.

Larbaoui’s legal representative was not immediately available for comment. The joint venture company could not be reached for comment. BNA declined to comment.
On Thursday, the same court referred ex-Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and two former industry ministers, Youcef Yousfi and Mahdjoub Bedda, to the public prosecutor to be investigated for alleged corruption related to the same case, state radio said.
Ouyahia and other officials could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could their representatives.
The seven are being investigated on accusations of “dissipation of public funds, illegal privileges and money laundering,” the radio said.
The supreme court also ordered the detention of Ouyahia and another former prime minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, last week for “dissipation of public funds and awarding illegal privileges” in a separate corruption case.


Battle for change far from over for women in new Sudan

Updated 9 min 1 sec ago
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Battle for change far from over for women in new Sudan

  • Women have been at the forefront of the revolt which led to Bashir’s overthrow by the military on April 11
  • A female lawyer was detained on the evening of Jan. 12 and escorted to “the fridge,” a grim room where interrogations are paired with extreme cold

KHARTOUM: She may have spent 40 days in jail for demonstrating against president Omar Al-Bashir who has since been toppled but activist Amani Osmane says the battle for women’s rights in Sudan is far from over.
Women have been at the forefront of the revolt which led to Bashir’s overthrow by the military on April 11 after three decades of iron-fisted rule.
Osmane, who is also a lawyer, was detained on the evening of January 12 and escorted to “the fridge,” a grim room where interrogations are paired with extreme cold.
“There are no windows, nothing, just air conditioning at full blast and the lights on 24/7,” she told AFP.
The fridge is part of a detention center run by the all-powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in a building on the Blue Nile that runs through Khartoum.
Dozens of activists and political opponents of Bashir’s regime have passed through what NISS agents cynically refer to as “the hotel.”
Osmane, who spent 40 days behind bars after a frigid seven hours of questioning, said she was arrested “contrary to all laws... because I stand up for women in a country where they have no rights.”
Another activist, Salwa Mohamed, 21, took part each day in protests at a camp outside the army headquarters in central Khartoum that became the epicenter of the anti-Bashir revolt.
Her aim was “to have the voice of women heard” in a Muslim country where she “cannot go out alone, study abroad or dress the way I want.”
Student Alaa Salah emerged as a singing symbol of the protest movement after a picture of her in a white robe leading chanting crowds from atop a car went viral on social media.
Portraits of Salah — dubbed “Kandaka,” or Nubian queen, online — have sprouted on murals across Khartoum, paying tribute to the prominent role played by women in the revolt.
Unrest which has gripped Sudan since bread riots in December that led to the anti-Bashir uprising left scores dead.
Doctors linked to the protest movement say that 246 people have been killed since the nationwide uprising erupted, including 127 people on June 3 when armed men raided the protest camp in Khartoum.
On Wednesday, protesters and the generals who took over from Bashir finally inked a deal that aims to install a civilian administration, a key demand of demonstrators since his fall three months ago.
The accord stipulates that a new transitional ruling body be established, comprised of six civilians and five military representatives.
A general will head the ruling body during the first 21 months of a transition, followed by a civilian for the remaining 18 months, according to the framework agreement.
“We will no longer wait for our rights, we will fight to obtain them,” said Osmane, stressing that women wanted 40 percent of seats in parliament.
Amira Altijani, a professor of English at the all-female Ahfad University in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, said: “This movement is an opportunity for women to have their voice heard.”
For Osmane, Bashir “hijacked” sharia laws for three decades to oppress women.
“But a new Sudan is rising, with a civilian government that will allow equality,” she said.