Algerian students hold anti-government protests

Dozens of Algerian students defied police Tuesday to demonstrate in the capital Algiers, a day after major protests for the second anniversary of mass anti-government rallies.

Policemen are seen on the sidelines as students chant slogans while demonstrating in the centre of Algeria’s capital Algiers on February 23, 2021 a day after the second anniversary of the “Hirak” protest movement. – The “Hirak” protest movement in April 2019 forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika into resigning. Police were deployed in force in Algiers, with security checkpoints and identity checks carried out around key flashpoints, while helicopters hovering overhead. Ryad Kramdi / AFP

The “Hirak” protest movement forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power in 2019, and before the protests were stalled amid Covid-19 restrictions last year, marches were held every Tuesday.

A mass rally in Algiers was held on Monday to mark the protests that kicked off on February 22, 2019, to oppose Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term.

The protests on Monday were the largest since the weekly demonstrations were suspended.

On Tuesday, students continued, despite police deploying in force before dawn in the centre of Algiers, especially at Martyrs’ Square, where student marches used to begin.

Several dozen students and activists managed to walk a short distance shouting slogans before police stopped the march.

“We are students and not terrorists,” some chanted, according to AFP journalists. “A free and democratic Algeria,” others shouted.

The CNLD prisoners’ rights group said three students and five other activists were arrested.

Protesters demand a sweeping overhaul of a ruling system in place since Algeria’s independence from France in 1962.

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