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Algerian protests continue after elections scrapped

ALGERIA remains in political deadlock with thousands taking to the streets for the 16th week of protests demanding the resignation of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah.

Planned elections, deemed illegitimate by protesters, were scrapped last week.

Algiers was the centre of the demonstrations on Friday amid accusations Mr Bensalah is desperately clinging on to power. He has vowed to stay until a new president is elected, in a process which could take months.

Banners were held aloft reading: “You all go” and “We need new figures” as Algerians seek to sweep aside the ruling elite, particularly those associated with former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He finally stood down on April 2 amid growing unrest.

He was replaced by his handpicked candidate Mr Bensalah, the speaker of Algeria’s upper house, who was appointed interim president. The country’s constitution gave 90 days until a new election must be called, with the date originally set for July 4.

However this was called off by the constitutional court last week on the grounds that there was a lack of candidates. The process was also hampered by magistrates and election officials stating they would strike and refuse to preside over the elections, making them impossible to administer.

Protesters are also opposed to head of the Algerian army General Ahmed Gaid Salah who they told to “clear off” during Friday’s protests.

He has positioned himself as the voice of the opposition, a move rejected by the protest movement.

Mr Salah pushed for the July 4 vote and protesters see him as close to the former regime.

Last week Mr Bensalah called for talks with the opposition to plan fresh elections.

However the offer was rejected by the movement which wants transparent elections with no involvement of those associated with the former regime.

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