Thousands protest in Algeria capital, break police cordon

Algerians protest on their independence day, after authorities arrested activists last week. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 July 2019
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Thousands protest in Algeria capital, break police cordon

  • Other chants glorified the martyrs of Algeria's war of independence, on what is the country's independence day
  • The protest comes two days after interim President Abdelkader Bensalah called for a national dialogue, in which he promised the state and army would remain neutral

ALGIERS: Around 2,000 people protested in the Algerian capital against the interim government Friday, defying a significant police presence just days before the mandate of its president expires, witnesses said.
Dozens of police vans were stationed near the main post office, a symbolic building for the protest movement now in its 20th week, an AFP journalist reported.
Ranks of police officers wearing helmets and equipped with shields tried to block the protesters and confine them to a pavement around 10 metres (yards) from the post office esplanade.
But amid shouts of "Long live Algeria! Peacefully, our claims are legitimate!", hundreds of the protesters successfully forced their way through the police cordon and headed for the esplanade.
Around a dozen protesters were arrested and placed in police vans, witnesses said.
Mass protests forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign in early April, but demonstrators have kept up the pressure, calling for other regime insiders to step aside and demanding independent institutions be established to oversee fresh elections.
"Go, liberate Algeria!", shouted the protesters, waving the national flag.
Other chants glorified the martyrs of Algeria's war of independence, on what is the country's independence day.
The protest comes two days after interim President Abdelkader Bensalah called for a national dialogue, in which he promised the state and army would remain neutral.
Bensalah's mandate is due to expire on Tuesday and he warned on Wednesday against the risk of the country falling into a constitutional vacuum.
"Wherever you are, we are - we will not stop!" the protesters shouted, referring to the government.
They chanted slogans against any elections organised by a "mafia gang".


Emirati astronaut prepares to join elite Arab space club

Updated 57 min 27 sec ago
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Emirati astronaut prepares to join elite Arab space club

  • Hazza Al-Mansoori 'living a dream' as he and backup astronaut train for space mission in September
  • Soyuz-MS 15 launch could be the beginning of a bold new era of Arab exploration of space

DUBAI: More than 30 years after an Arab first journeyed into space, an  Emirati is preparing to become the latest Arab space traveler when he joins a team of astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) in September.

For months, Hazza Al-Mansoori and backup pilot Sultan Al-Neyadi have been undergoing intensive training in Russia, Germany and the US to prepare for the mission. The first Emirati to travel into space will make the historic journey on board a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft due to take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 25.

During the eight-day mission, he will conduct a tour of the ISS for Arabic viewers on Earth and carry out 15 experiments for the Science in Space schools competition conducted by Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center.

The crew, who will include an American and a Russian, are allowed to take up to 1 kg of personal items with them on the mission.

“I will take my family photo and share the experience of being in space with them,” Al-Mansoori said. There will also be an image of Sheikh Zayed, the UAE’s founding father, meeting American astronauts in 1976.

“I am also going to take an Emirati flag. I am living my dream and want to give something back to my country.”

‘I will take an Emirati flag into space. I am living my dream and want to give something back to my country.’

Emirati astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori

Al-Mansoori will join an elite space club comprising Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan bin Salman and Syria’s Muhammed Faris. Prince Sultan became the first Arab to travel to space as part of space shuttle Discovery’s crew in 1985. Faris was a crew member of USSR’s Soyuz spacecraft in 1987.

The Emirati astronaut is aware that history is resting on his shoulders. Speaking to the media recently during his training program in Houston, Al-Mansoori  said it is a huge personal honor to be the first Emirati chosen for space exploration.

“I’m excited about the whole mission, but especially to experience the microgravity and be living in the ISS, and conducting daily experiments and working with the amazing group on board,” he said.

Al-Mansoori and Al-Neyadi have been undergoing rigorous training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The program includes familiarization with NASA equipment on board the space station, and handling emergency situations, such as ammonia gas leaks and depressurization.

The Emiratis have been trained to fend for themselves if the return goes off course and they land in the wilderness of Russia.

Speaking of the Soyuz-MS 15 mission, Yousuf Al-Shaibani, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, said: “We strive to see the UAE Astronaut Program achieve its objective of preparing generations of Emiratis who will contribute to enhancing the country’s position in space science and research to serve the ambitious aspirations aimed at building a national knowledge-based economy.”

The September launch could prove to be the beginning of a bold new era for Arabs and space. Al-Neyadi, the backup pilot, has been promised a seat on a future mission, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia are drawing up ambitious plans for the development of the region’s space industry.