More than 80 detained in Algiers protest, says rights group

Demonstrators were out on the streets of Algiers on Thursday for the second night in a row, protesting over the December presidential election. (Reuters)
Updated 23 November 2019

More than 80 detained in Algiers protest, says rights group

  • Demonstrators express their fears that presidential poll will be rigged

ALGIERS: Authorities arrested more than 80 people during a night-time protest in the Algerian capital, a prisoners’ rights group said on Friday.

Demonstrators have been protesting against next month’s presidential election which they allege aims to cement in power a political elite linked to former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Bouteflika quit in April after popular pressure.

The CNLD prisoners’ rights committee said most of those detained in Thursday night’s protest were taken to police stations in the suburbs of Algiers.

Hundreds of Algerians had turned out for the second night in a row to voice their anger over the presidential poll set for Dec. 12.

They did so hours after an examining magistrate charged 29 people arrested during a similar protest on Wednesday night with holding an “unauthorized gathering.”

Five candidates are to contest next month’s election after the ailing Bouteflika, 82, was forced to step down after mass demonstrations in February against his bid for a fifth term.

Algeria has since seen weekly protests demanding major reforms to a political system that has been in place since independence from France in 1962.

On Friday, several hundred people had already gathered in central Algiers hours before the start of the 40th weekly protests, journalists posted on social networks.

Dozens of people have been arrested since the election campaign began last Sunday. Four were sentenced on Monday to 18 months in jail and 14 received suspended terms for disrupting a meeting.

“This is a campaign of repression, not an election campaign,” chanted protesters seen in video footage released online by the independent news site TSA.


US blasts Houthis over ‘ticking time bomb’ tanker in Red Sea

Updated 10 August 2020

US blasts Houthis over ‘ticking time bomb’ tanker in Red Sea

  • Iran-backed militias renege on agreement to allow UN inspectors aboard stricken vessel holding 1.4 million barrels of oil

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: The US blasted Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen on Sunday for reneging on a deal to allow UN teams to board a rusting oil storage vessel that threatens an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.

The FSO Safer has been moored 7 km off the coast of Yemen since 1988. It fell into Houthi hands in March 2015, when they took control of the coast around the port city of Hodeidah.

The Houthis briefly bowed to pressure last month and agreed to allow a team of UN engineers to visit the ship, before changing their minds and restating their previous demands for the revenue from the oil. As the vessel’s condition deteriorates there are fears that the 1.4 million barrels of oil it contains will start to seep out.

“The Houthis have failed to follow through on their agreement to allow a UN team on to the Safer,” the White House National Security Council said on Sunday.

“They are courting environmental and humanitarian disaster by obstructing and delaying. For the good of Yemen and the region, the Houthis must allow the UN aboard the Safer.”

A recent water leak into the tanker’s engine prompted warnings of a major disaster.

“The time has come for a resolute response for an outcome,” the Yemen Embassy in Washington said on Sunday. 

“There cannot be more delays or deliberations. UN inspectors must immediately access and assess the Safer oil tanker even without Houthi permission.”

The UK echoed its concerns. “There is another floating disaster off the Yemeni coast with potentially as massive an ecological footprint as the shockwave that engulfed Beirut,” former Middle East minister Alistair Burt said. “The politics preventing safe evacuation of the oil must stop immediately.”