Algerians seeking old guard’s exit protest against upcoming poll

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Fresh demonstrations are taking place in Algeria, the last in a series of weekly marches in the lead-up to a presidential election opposed by a protest movement that fears it will cement in power politicians close to the old political elite.

Algeria is scheduled to hold the election on December 12 but the thousands rallying every Friday have long demanded the departure of the political elite linked to former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika – who quit in April following mass protests – before any vote takes place.

Protesters say all five candidates seeking the presidency either supported the former leader or participated in his government.

“These elections are simply a smokescreen for the continuation” of the old guard, Youcef Boundel, a professor of political science and international relations at Qatar University, told Leakblast.

“At the moment [there] is some sort of inertia, it gives the impression that something is happening … but in reality nothing changes,” he said. “The current regime is going to stay and changing Bouteflika [for] another person will not change the type and the nature of this authoritarian political system that [has] existed.”

‘New name, same policies’

Angry at unemployment, corruption and an elderly elite seen as out of touch with the young, Algerians have taken to the streets since February 22 to protest, initially against ailing Bouteflika’s plans to remain in office, and then for the removal of all remnants of a secretive political and military establishment that has dominated the country for decades.

Friday marks the 42nd consecutive week the “Hirak” protest movement has organised marches across the country.

“I am not against voting, I am against this election because it is only serving to recycle Bouteflika figures,” Fatiha Bendahmane told Leakblast.

“We will have a new name but the same policies that destroyed the economy of this country. I will march today to say no to voting with this regime,” said Bendahmane, a 55-year-old teacher, as she prepared to march in the capital, Algiers.

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