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.


Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda throws weight behind vote frontrunner

Updated 21 September 2019

Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda throws weight behind vote frontrunner

  • Karoui came second with 15.6 percent
  • The result was a major upset for Tunisia’s political establishment

TUNIS: Tunisia’s influential Islamist-inspired party Ennahda said on Friday it will support law professor and political outsider Kais Saied in a presidential runoff against jailed media magnate Nabil Karoui.

“Ennahda has chosen to support the people’s choice,” party spokesman Imed Khemiri told AFP after last Sunday’s first round of polling in which Saied finished ahead with 18.4 percent of the vote.

The surprise result of the election, contested by more than 20 candidates, thrust to the fore both Saied and Karoui, likewise from outside the world of traditional Tunisian politics.

Karoui came second with 15.6 percent, said the electoral commission ISIE, while Ennahda, a main force in Parliament, scored 12.9 percent with its first-ever candidate to run for the presidency, Abdelfattah Mourou.

The result was a major upset for Tunisia’s political establishment, in place since the fall of late leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali eight years ago after mass protests that sparked the Arab Spring revolts.

HIGHLIGHT

The surprise result of the election, contested by more than 20 candidates, thrust to the fore both Saied and Karoui, likewise from outside the world of traditional Tunisian politics.

Saied, a fiercely independent academic aged 61, advocates a radical decentralization of power, with local democracy and the ability to remove elected officials from office during their mandates.

He is also perceived as very conservative on social issues, and has defended the death penalty, criminalization of homosexuality and a sexual assault law that punishes unmarried couples who engage in public displays of affection.

Karoui, a 56-year-old media magnate, has been held in prison since Aug. 23 under investigation for alleged money laundering.

He remains eligible to run as long as any conviction does not also specifically deprive him of his civil rights, according to ISIE.

Karoui has in recent years used his popular television channel Nessma to launch high-profile charity campaigns, often appearing in designer suits as he criss-crosses the country to meet with some of its poorest.