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Algerian protests continue despite corruption probes

TENS of thousands protested in Algeria for the 17th week in a row on Friday as they continue to press for radical change and the removal from power of the country’s corrupt ruling elite.

The streets of the capital Algiers were a throng of green and white once again as protesters called for the resignations of those linked to the regime of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced out of office in April after almost 20 years in power.

A wave of arrests on corruption charges — including those of two former prime ministers and Mr Bouteflika’s brother Said — has not quelled the opposition, who insist that new, independent institutions are necessary.

“You have built prisons, you will all be imprisoned there,” one banner held aloft read as the crowd chanted: “Thieves, you have pillaged the country.”

Algeria’s currency reserves have fallen from £142 billion to £63bn in the last five years. Algerians are demanding to know how the country’s wealth has been squandered by the elite. Many fear the cash has been spirited out of the country and stashed away by the rich.

The latest to be arrested is Mourad Eulmi, head of the private firm Sovac, a partner of Germany’s Volkswagen AG, at a car-assembly plant in the western province of Relizane.

Yesterday former finance minister Karim Djoudi appeared before the Supreme Court to face questions about corruption accusations. He has not yet been charged.

Despite the probes, Algerians on the streets continue to press for change, demanding an end to rule by those associated with the old regime.

They are calling for acting President Abdelkader Bensalah to resign and reject claims by head of the country’s powerful army, General Ahmed Gaed Salah, that he speaks for the opposition, telling him to “clear off” too.

Elections planned for July 4 have been scrapped, seen as illegitimate by the protesters. No new date has been set and the political deadlock continues.

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