Algeria to release 2 protest leaders, says opposition politician

Two main figures of Algeria’s “Hirak” protest movement will soon be freed at the president’s initiative, the leader of an opposition party said Tuesday. (AFP)
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Updated 03 June 2020

Algeria to release 2 protest leaders, says opposition politician

  • The Algerian government — wielding carrots and sticks — continues to target opponents, journalists, independent media and internet users

ALGIERS: Two main figures of Algeria’s “Hirak” protest movement will soon be freed at the president’s initiative, the leader of an opposition party said Tuesday.

“President Abdel Madjid Tebboune assured me that he would use his constitutional prerogative to ensure that Karim Tabbou and Samir Benlarbi regain their freedom,” Sosiane Djilali told AFP.

“It’s solemn commitment on his part,” said the Jil Jadid party leader after a meeting with Tebboune that he had requested to discuss the two cases.

“Mr. Tebboune pointed out that he will not interfere directly in what concerns the judiciary,” Djilali said.

In the Algerian judicial system, the president has the right to pardon prisoners.

In principle, that right applies only to those whose convictions are final, such as Tabbou, a veteran opposition figure serving a one-year term for an “attack on the integrity of national territory.”

As for Benlarbi, he has been held in preventive detention since March 7.

“I think they have paid enough. It’s very good for them to regain their freedom and go back home,” Djilali said.

Weekly anti-government protests rocked Algeria for more than a year and only came to a halt in March due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, with the authorities banning marches — although the opposition had already suspended its gatherings.

But the Algerian government — wielding carrots and sticks — continues to target opponents, journalists, independent media and internet users.

According to the National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD), some 60 people are currently detained on charges linked to the protest movement.

After causing the downfall of former President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika after 20 years in power last April, the Hirak movement has continued demanding an overhaul of Algeria’s governance system, which has been in place since independence from France in 1962.


Algeria says France to return remains of 24 resistance fighters

Updated 02 July 2020

Algeria says France to return remains of 24 resistance fighters

  • Tebboune said some of the remains belonged to “leaders” of the resistance movement who were killed in the 19th century

ALGIERS: Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Thursday said France will return the remains of 24 resistance fighters who were killed during its colonization of the North African country.
“Within a few hours Algerian military planes will fly in from France and land at the Houari Boumediene international airport with the remains of 24 (members) of the popular resistance,” Tebboune said during a military ceremony.
Tebboune said some of the remains belonged to “leaders” of the resistance movement who were killed in the 19th century fighting against France which occupied and ruled Algeria for 132 years.
In his speech, Tebboune said these resistance fighters “had been deprived of their natural and human right to be buried for more than 170 years.”
One of the leaders whose remains are to be returned is Sheikh Bouzian, who was captured in 1849 by the French, shot and decapitated.
The remains of two other key figures of the resistance — Bou Amar Ben Kedida and Si Mokhtar Ben Kouider Al Titraoui — are also among those expected back in Algeria.
The country won independence from France in 1962 after eight years of bitter war that left some 1.5 million Algerians dead.
Emmanuel Macron, the first French president to be born after the war, made his first official visit to Algeria in December 2017, announcing that he came as a “friend” despite France’s historically prickly ties with its former colony.
At the time he told news website Tout sur l’Algerie that he was “ready” to see his country hand back the skulls of Algerian resistance fighters.
Algerian and French academics have long campaigned for the return of 37 skulls held at the Musee de l’Homme in Paris.
In December 2019, Macron said that “colonialism was a grave mistake” and called for turning the page on the past.
During his presidential election campaign Macron had created a storm by calling France’s colonization of Algeria a “crime against humanity.”