Algeria bans unauthorized protests in movement perceived to be against the popular Hirak movement

Algeria will ban all protests that do not have pre-approval, it said Sunday, a move apparently targeting the weekly mass demonstrations that impeached a veteran president in 2019 but have continued to demand a more thorough purge of the ruling elite.

The Interior Ministry said that all protests would require a permit with the names of the organizers and a start and end time for the demonstrations.

“Failure to comply with these procedures will result in a violation of the law and the constitution, which denies the march’s legitimacy, and it will be necessary to address it on this basis,” the ministry said.

Such restrictions, even if permits were issued, would mean that specific individuals are listed as formally responsible for a hitherto leaderless protest movement.

The measures are in line with a clause in a new constitution approved by Algerian voters last November, in a referendum that attracted only 25% of participants, requiring organizers to provide advance information before demonstrations.

Some protesters believe the restrictions are intended to end all street marches. “They are looking for reasons to justify any decision to ban marches,” said Ahmed Badili, a member of the leaderless protest movement known as Hirak.

The restrictions come ahead of the early June parliamentary elections that President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, elected in a December 2019 vote boycotted by the protest movement, pledged to be fair and transparent.

Thousands of people have been marching every Friday since February after a nearly year-long hiatus during which protests were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mass protests erupted in February 2019 after then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said he would run for a fifth term, leading hundreds of thousands to take to the streets. Bouteflika stepped down in April 2019, but protests continued as protesters demanded the departure of the entire ruling elite, ended corruption and the military stopped politics.

While Tebboune has publicly praised the demonstrations as a moment of national renewal and offered dialogue with the movement, security forces have detained protesters based on criticism from human rights organizations.

(REUTERS)

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