Algeria opposition propose six-month political transition

The powerful military has been watching the protests unfold. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 March 2019

Algeria opposition propose six-month political transition

  • The roadmap stipulates the creation of a ‘presidential body’ that would run the country during the transition period
  • Algeria’s opposition however has been marginalized by the protest movement

ALGIERS: A group of Algerian opposition parties and unions proposed on Saturday a “roadmap” to end a political crisis and weeks of protests sparked by the veteran president’s bid to stay in power.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said on February 22 he would run for a fifth term in April 18 elections, despite concerns about his ability to rule, triggering an outcry in the country which has since been gripped by demonstrations.

The 82-year-old, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely appeared in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, earlier this month said he would pull out of the race.

But he also postponed the elections, meaning he will stay in power until polls are held.

Bouteflika’s current mandate expires on April 28 and proposals agreed at a meeting between opposition parties and unions call for a six-month transition period from that date.

The roadmap stipulates the creation of a “presidential body” that would run the country during the transition period and which would be comprised of “national figures known for their credibility, integrity and competence.”

But members of the body should not run in future presidential elections nor back any candidates in the poll, the statement seen by AFP said.

The proposals were made during a meeting attended namely by the party of Bouteflika’s key rival Ali Benflis, a former prime minister who has joined the opposition, and the main Islamist party, the Movement for the Society of Peace.

Algeria’s opposition however has been marginalized by the protest movement, which has been largely led by students angry with the country’s political system.

The proposals come a day after hundreds of thousands of Algerians demonstrated nationwide for a fifth consecutive Friday, demanding that Bouteflika stand down and calling for regime change.

On Saturday, around 1,000 lawyers rallied in the capital Algiers chanting “we’re fed up” with this government and calling on the political system to “go away.”


US sanctions Iran minister over Internet censorship

Updated 22 November 2019

US sanctions Iran minister over Internet censorship

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: We are sanctioning Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology for restricting Internet access
  • Mnuchin: Iran’s leaders know that a free and open Internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor Internet access to quell anti-regime protests

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury slapped punitive sanctions on Iran’s communications minister, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Friday after the Tehran regime blocked Internet communications amid violent protests triggered by a petrol price hike.
“We are sanctioning Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology for restricting Internet access, including to popular messaging applications that help tens of millions of Iranians stay connected to each other and the outside world,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.
“Iran’s leaders know that a free and open Internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor Internet access to quell anti-regime protests,” Mnuchin said.
The protests erupted across the country on November 15, after the price of petrol was raised by as much as 200 percent.
Officials have confirmed five deaths, while Amnesty International said that more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed after authorities reportedly used live ammunition to quell the protests, which brought attacks on police stations and petrol stations and some looting of shops.
The Treasury said Azari Jahomi is a former official of the Ministry of Intelligence who has advanced Internet censorship since becoming minister two years ago.
He has “also been involved in surveillance against opposition activists,” the Treasury said.
Internet service remained mostly blocked on Friday for a sixth day, with officials and news agencies saying the blackout was gradually being rolled back.
The sanctions would freeze financial assets and property Azari Jahomi has in US jurisdictions and forbid Americans or US businesses, especially banks, from dealing with him.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump accused Iran of blocking the Internet to cover up “death and tragedy” resulting from the protests.
“Iran has become so unstable that the regime has shut down their entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country,” Trump tweeted.
“They want ZERO transparency, thinking the world will not find out the death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!” he wrote.