Algeria protesters demand army quit politics after cleric urges election

An Algerian takes part in a demonstration against the ruling class in the capital Algiers. (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2019

Algeria protesters demand army quit politics after cleric urges election

  • Algeria plunged into crisis in February when massive protests erupted to stop the old, sick Bouteflika running for a fifth term in an election that was scheduled for July

ALGIERS: Tens of thousands of Algerian protesters chanted slogans on Friday demanding the army quit politics, a purge of the ruling elite, an end to corruption, and the freeing of opposition leaders.
The demonstrations in the capital Algiers and several other cities follow a ruling by a prominent independent cleric this week urging people to vote in a December election backed by the army but opposed by the protest movement.
The fatwa, or Islamic legal ruling, and another two weeks ago, represent the first significant comment on the months-long political crisis by major independent clerics, and may influence conservative Algerians.
The army, which has emerged as the most powerful player in Algerian politics, sees December’s presidential election as the only way to quell the protests and end the constitutional limbo that has prevailed since President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stood down in April.
Demonstrators have rejected the election, however, saying it could not be free or fair while Bouteflika’s allies and military leaders maintain senior positions in the government.
Sheikh Lakhdar Zaoui, a well-known conservative cleric, published a fatwa, or Islamic legal ruling, on Wednesday, saying a Muslim country could not be leaderless.
Another cleric, Sheikh Chemseddine Bouroubi, who has a daily television show “Please Advise Me” that answers people’s questions about religion, said last month it was forbidden for Algeria to have no president.
Algeria plunged into crisis in February when massive protests erupted to stop the old, sick Bouteflika running for a fifth term in an election that was scheduled for July.
He resigned on April 2, and the election was postponed. The authorities have meanwhile tried a carrot-and-stick approach to end the demonstrations, arresting Bouteflika allies on corruption charges but also increasing policing at protests.
The leaderless protesters have said the arrests so far are not enough, demanding that the rest of the ruling elite be removed including interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Nouredine Bedoui.


Tunisia says militant leader killed in anti-terror raid

Updated 20 October 2019

Tunisia says militant leader killed in anti-terror raid

  • Tunisian armed forces and national guardsmen led the operation
  • A terrorist leader from the Al-Qaeda branch in Tunisia was killed

TUNIS: An Al-Qaeda leader was killed and another wounded during an anti-terror raid in Tunisia on Sunday, according to the country’s defense ministry.
Tunisian armed forces and national guardsmen led the operation against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the mountainous Kasserine region near the Algerian border, ministry spokesman Mohamed Zekri told AFP.
“A terrorist leader from the Okba Ibn Nafaa group was killed” and another injured in the ongoing operation, he said.
Okba Ibn Nafaa is the Tunisian branch of AQIM.
Various extremiist groups are active in the rugged frontier region of Kasserine, including the Daesh group-affiliated Jund Al-Khalifa, or “Soldiers of the Caliphate.”
Security forces regularly carry out raids in the area.
Tunisia faced a rise in extremist activity after its 2011 revolution, with attacks killing dozens of security personnel, civilians and foreign tourists.
While the security situation has significantly improved since a series of deadly attacks in 2015, Tunisia has maintained a state of emergency for four years and assaults against security forces have persisted.