Thousands of Algerian students and teachers took to the streets of the capital Tuesday chanting slogans against the armed forces’ chief currently dominating the country and plans for an election in July.
Protesters are keeping up the pressure on the ruling elite with demands for more sweeping changes in the North African state nearly two months after veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned.
Military chief Ahmed Gaid Salah has emerged as a de facto strongman after easing his former boss from power but demonstrators insist he and other Bouteflika-era stalwarts must go before a new presidential poll can be held.
“No elections, mafia gangs,” shouted the crowds as they marched peacefully through Algiers in the face of heavy police deployment. The latest protests came as Gaid Salah called for “mutual concessions” between the country’s interim leaders and those taking to the streets.
Gaid Salah has repeatedly called for a constitutional solution through a July 4 presidential election. But only two little-known figures submitted their candidacies on time for the disputed poll, raising doubts about plans to stage it.
Algeria has been rocked by months of protests since the ailing Bouteflika announced in February that he would run for a fifth term. He quit office but protesters have kept up mass demonstrations calling for an overhaul of the “system” and departure of key Bouteflika-era figures.
Under the constitution, interim president Abdelkader Bensalah has 90 days to organize a presidential election from the date of his appointment on April 9.