Algeria Ex-Presidential Candidate Jailed

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

An Algiers court on Thursday sentenced a former presidential candidate and retired general to four years in prison for undermining army morale, the official APS news agency reported.

Ali Ghediri had said he would stand in Algeria’s April 2019 election against longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The ailing autocrat’s decision to seek a fifth mandate led to mass protests against his rule and he later stepped down under army pressure.

Ghediri, detained since June 2019, appeared in court on Thursday accused of “participating during peacetime in undertakings aimed at weakening army morale”, APS said.

The prosecution had requested a sentence of seven years behind bars.

Ghediri was a political novice without a strong support structure to back him when he threw his hat into the ring against Bouteflika.

He had said he wanted to “break the system” and “build a second republic”.

READ ALSO: Algeria’s Ex-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika Dies Aged 84

In a late 2018 interview with El Watan newspaper, Ghediri had hit out at speculation that the April election might be postponed and Bouteflika’s mandate extended, suggesting he expected the army to stop any such move.

The comments earned him a rebuke from the defence ministry, which threatened to go to court if rules on the conduct of former military officers were breached.

Bouteflika delayed the April elections indefinitely after the Hirak pro-democracy protest movement broke out in February that year.

Then interim president Abdelkader Bensalah scheduled a new vote for July but the country’s constitutional council cancelled it, citing a lack of candidates.

An election was eventually held in December 2019, with Abdelmadjid Tebboune declared the winner.

Bouteflika died last week, aged 84, while Bensalah died Wednesday, aged 79.

AFP

Timeline: Algeria’s Anti-Government Protests

 

Algeria has clamped down on an anti-government protest movement in the run-up to a parliamentary election on Saturday.

Mass demonstrations, known as the Hirak or movement in Arabic, swept longtime autocrat Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power in 2019.

The movement, which returned to the streets in February following an almost year-long break due to the coronavirus pandemic, has called for a boycott of the vote, but has been hit by a wave of arrests of its supporters.

Here is a timeline:

Bouteflika quits

From February 2019, when the 82-year-old Bouteflika announces he will stand for a fifth term despite his failing health, mass protests are held every Friday drawing hundreds of thousands of people.

On April 2, Bouteflika resigns following two decades in power, after the powerful armed forces chief Ahmed Gaid Salah tells him to quit.

While crowds cheer his departure, they fill the streets again on April 5 to push for a total dismantling of the political system in place since independence from France in 1962.

On April 9, upper house speaker Abdelkader Bensalah is named interim president, but opposition parties refuse to confirm his nomination.

 

 

Army gets tough

Gaid Salah emerges as the key powerbroker. On May 20, he rejects the demands of protesters that an election planned for July 4 be postponed and that regime stalwarts step down.

But the constitutional council cancels the planned election on June 2 citing a lack of candidates.

On September 18, the military hardens its position, ordering police to block demonstrators from outside Algiers entering the capital.

Bouteflika allies jailed

On September 25, a military court sentences Bouteflika’s brother Said and two former intelligence chiefs to 15 years in prison for “conspiring” against the state.

In December, former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal, both close to Bouteflika, are sentenced to 15 years and 12 years in jail respectively in corruption trials.

New president’s weak mandate

On December 12, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, a former prime minister under Bouteflika, wins a presidential election on an official turnout of less than 40 percent.

The next day, Tebboune calls for talks with protesters, who nevertheless remain on the streets.

On December 23, Gaid Salah dies from a heart attack, aged 79.

Pandemic halts protests

On January 31, 2020, Algerians flood the streets of the capital to celebrate the 50th consecutive Friday demonstration.

However, on March 20 the streets of Algiers are empty for the first Friday since the start of the protest movement as the Covid pandemic takes hold.

Referendum

Algerians approve a revised constitution in a November 1 referendum marked by record low turnout.

The plebiscite takes place in the absence of Tebboune, who is hospitalised overseas after contracting Covid-19.

He returns to Algeria but goes back to Germany for surgery following post-Covid complications and does not return to Algiers until February 12.

 

A crowd of Algerian veterans gathered in the rain on February 4, 1956 in front of the war memorial to protest against the appointment of General Georges Catroux as Governor General of Algeria to replace Jacques Soustelle recalled to Paris. General Catroux, whom supporters of French Algeria criticize for being in favor of the single electoral college, will resign even before taking office following the violent incidents that occurred during the visit to Algiers on February 6 by the President of the Council Guy Mollet. (Photo by Philippe BONIN / AFP)

 

Pardons, protests

Thousands of Algerians rally on February 16 in the northern town of Kherrata, seen as the cradle of the protests.

Two days later, Tebboune pardons dozens of jailed Hirak activists, announces early elections and says he will carry out a government reshuffle.

On February 22, seen as the second anniversary of the mass protests, thousands demonstrate in Algiers and other cities ending a nearly year-long break.

On May 9, the interior ministry says Hirak organisers will have to advise authorities of protests in advance, effectively amounting to a ban.

The authorities have since put down protests in Algiers and elsewhere, and detained scores of demonstrators.

Thousands Protest In Algiers Despite Tight Security

Algerian protesters take part in a demonstration against the country’s army chief in Algeria’s capital Algiers on September 20, 2019, as the police toughens its line ahead of December elections.
AFP

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Algerian capital on Friday in defiance of a heavy security presence to demand the ouster of the country’s army chief.

Demonstrators gathered near the capital’s main post office square, the epicentre of Algeria’s protest movement that forced longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down in April, this time calling for the ouster of General Ahmed Gaid Salah.

“The people want the fall of Gaid Salah,” the strongman in post-Bouteflika Algeria, they chanted. “Take us all to prison, the people will not stop.”

Friday’s protest marked Algeria’s 31st consecutive week of rallies, but protesters faced a heavy deployment of security forces in the city centre and along its main avenues.

Salah on Wednesday ordered police to block protesters from outside Algiers entering the capital to boost numbers at the anti-regime rallies.

The tougher line on protests came just days after interim president Abdelkader Bensalah announced a December 12 date for a presidential election to fill the vacuum left by Bouteflika’s departure.

 

The army chief has led the push for polls by the end of 2019, despite mass protests demanding political reforms and the removal of the former president’s loyalists — including Gaid Salah himself — before any vote.

In the runup to the latest rally, as on previous Fridays, police made several arrests near the square, AFP photographers said.

Police stopped vehicles on main streets in the capital and an AFP journalist saw officers in plainclothes ask for identity papers, before some were led off to nearby vans.

As a police helicopter scoured the skies, security forces also stopped cars headed towards the city centre from its southwest entrance, where a dozen anti-riot police vans were stationed.

Said Salhi, deputy head of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, condemned the heightened security measures as “illegal”.

Demonstrations have officially been banned in Algiers since 2001 but the prohibition had been ignored since rallies started on February 22 against the ailing Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth presidential term.

Five Members Of One Family Killed In Algiers Building Collapse

 

Five members of the same family were killed Monday when a dilapidated building collapsed in the Algerian capital’s UNESCO-listed Casbah district, officials said.

The four-storey building in the historic Old City was located across the street from the landmark Ketchaoua Mosque, which was built during Ottoman rule.

Rescuers and sniffer dogs combed the rubble all day to recover the bodies and to search for survivors.

Residents said the victims were a man, his wife, the man’s brother and two children; one a child aged eight and the other a baby a few months old.

They had been squatting in the building, after its formal occupants had been evacuated several months ago by the authorities due to concerns about the structure, residents said.

Residents blamed authorities for the tragedy and chased away the governor of Algiers when he arrived at the site, forcing him to leave the scene surrounded by bodyguards and police, an AFP reporter said.

A few hours later state television announced the sacking of the governor, and the dismissal of five others from the country’s 48 provinces, without giving any explanation.

A woman at the scene said the building “was falling into ruins” and should have been “renovated or destroyed”.

She said authorities had fixed the facade of the building for the inauguration of Katchaoua Mosque last year after the latter underwent three years of renovation.

AFP

Team Nigeria Dominate Para Powerlifting In Algiers

Team Nigeria in Algiers

 

Team Nigeria have emerged the overall winner at the world Para Powerlifting African Championships in Algiers.

13 athletes represented the country and produced 11 gold and 2 silver medals.

Shade Oluwafemiayo, Loveline Obiji, Latifa Tijani and Esther Onyema ruled their categories.

Yakubu Adesokan, Roland Ezuruike, Kehinde Paul, Innocent Nnamdi and Ebere Okpala also won gold in their events.

Bose Omolayo produced a new world record in the women’s 79kg, lifting 139-point 5kg to smash the previous one that was set at 138 point 5kg.

The championship also serves as qualifying process for the 2020 Olympic games.

AYC Prep: Flying Eagles Play Draw In Final Warm-Up

In their last preparation match ahead of their African Youth Championship (AYC) quest in Algeria, Nigeria’s U-20 Flying Eagles drew 2-2 yesterday with Club Africain in Tunis.

Billed to leave for Algeria after the game against Club Africain, the injection of Olanrewaju Kayode gave the squad the first goal after 34 minutes from inside the six-yard box after a fantastic play and Club Africain replied with an equaliser a minute later.

Aliyu Goyi a left back player almost put the Flying Eagles ahead again in the 52nd minute with his stunning move, but his low shot was close to target.

Club Africain however took the lead after Goyi’s narrow miss with a penalty kick which the Flying Eagles conceded after a foul inside the box.

The first team side of the Club Africain as opposed to Nigeria’s U-20 side bowed to pressure from the junior boys in the 70th minute after Kayode’s superb chance could not be knocked off by Afrcain’s goalkeeper as he rounded him up and claimed the goal for Flying Eagles.

Flying Eagles proved a better side but couldn’t go further by showing it on the score sheet as they were denied several scintillating chances.

The Flying Eagles will fly out to Algiers on Wednesday afternoon, while their opening Group B match will be on Sunday, March 17 against Mali.