Algeria’s ex-industry minister detained over alleged corruption

Algeria’s supreme court placed former industry minister Youcef Yousfi in custody over alleged corruption. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 July 2019

Algeria’s ex-industry minister detained over alleged corruption

  • Yousfi became the latest senior official to be detained in anti-corruption investigations since protests erupted earlier this year
  • His legal representative was not immediately available for comment

ALGIERS: Algeria's supreme court on Wednesday placed former industry minister Youcef Yousfi in custody over alleged corruption, state television reported.
Yousfi became the latest senior official to be detained in anti-corruption investigations since protests erupted earlier this year demanding the prosecution of people seen by demonstrators as corrupt, as well as the removal of the long-ruling elite.
Protesters and the military forced President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign on April 2, ending his 20 years in power. But protests have continued to press demands for the departure of others in the old guard that has dominated the oil- and gas-exporting country since independence from France in 1962.
Yousfi, who served as industry minister from August 2017 to March 2019, is accused of "dissipation of public funds and awarding illegal privileges", state television reported, without providing details.
His legal representative was not immediately available for comment.
The supreme court last month ordered the detention of other senior officials including former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal for "dissipation of public funds".
The military is now the main decision-maker, and its chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah, has repeatedly pledged to help the judiciary investigate corruption cases.
Protesters are now seeking the resignation of interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, whom they see as close to Bouteflika.
The government has postponed a presidential election previously planned for July 4, citing a lack of candidates. No new date has been set for the vote.
Bensalah last week called on political parties and national figures to take part in an "inclusive dialogue" to prepare for elections, but some opposition leaders rejected the offer.


Clashes, tear gas in Beirut as protests turn to riots

Updated 06 June 2020

Clashes, tear gas in Beirut as protests turn to riots

  • Divisions among protesters over the goals of the demonstration quickly became apparent as groups of protesters faced off
  • Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers and riot police were deployed on major roads in the capital and its suburbs ahead of the protest

BEIRUT: Lebanese riot police fired tear gas at protesters in central Beirut on Saturday, after a planned anti-government demonstration quickly degenerated into rioting and stone-throwing confrontations between opposing camps.
A few thousand demonstrators had gathered in Martyrs' Square hoping to reboot nationwide protests that began late last year amid an unprecedented economic and financial crisis. But tensions and divisions among protesters over the goals of the demonstration quickly became apparent as groups of protesters faced off, with the army standing between them.
Scattered groups of protesters arrived in the capital's downtown area, only some of them wearing masks and face shields to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, in response to calls for a centralized protest to press for demands.
Lebanese rose up against their political leaders in nationwide mass protests on Oct. 17 amid a spiraling economic crisis, blaming them for decades of corruption and mismanagement. The protests, which further deepened the slump, eventually lost some momentum and later were put on hold after the outbreak of the pandemic.
The government has gradually begun easing a lockdown aimed at curbing the virus, and protesters have returned to the streets in small numbers in recent days. Saturday's protest was called for by grassroots organizations and civil society groups as well as several political parties, including some groups who have introduced for the first time demands for the Shiite militant group Hezbollah to disarm.
The participation of political groups and anti-Hezbollah slogans have upset some activists and protesters who say the focus should remain on addressing the country's economic crisis and calling for early elections.
Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers and riot police were deployed on major roads in the capital and its suburbs ahead of the protest. They later stood between supporters of Hezbollah and its allied Shiite Amal movement on one side and protesters on the other, some of whom shouted insults aimed at the Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
The pro-Hezbollah side, some carrying yellow Hezbollah flags, chanted “Shia, Shia, Shia!”
Near the parliament building, a group of young men hurled rocks over cement barriers erected to seal off the area. Young men vandalized several storefronts, including a luxury French designer furniture company and a nearby hotel. Police responded with heavy tear gas.
The unprecedented economic crisis, nationwide protests and pandemic pose the biggest threat to stability since the end of the country’s civil war in 1990, and there are fears of a new slide into violence.
In recent weeks, the Lebanese pound, pegged to the dollar for more than two decades, has lost 60% of its value against the dollar and prices of basic goods soared. Unemployment has risen to 35% and an estimated 45% of the country’s population is now below the poverty line.