Algerians rally for change despite arrests


ALGIERS: Algerians took to the streets of the capital despite a spate of arrests Friday to push for further change two months after the resignation of leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
A thousand demonstrators in central Algiers chanted slogans decrying a push to hold presidential elections in July and rejecting calls by the armed forces chief for dialogue.
“No elections with this gang in power,” the crowd shouted.
Protesters are looking to keep up the pressure on the North African state’s ruling elite with weekly rallies despite the end of Bouteflika’s two-decade rule.
Police had earlier rounded some 50 people, mainly young men, in the heart of Algiers ahead of the planned protest.
Those detained had their IDs and mobile phones confiscated and were loaded into vans, an AFP journalist reported.
Demonstrators taking to the streets are demanding the resignation of all those tainted by ties to the former regime.
Armed forces chief Ahmed Gaid Salah has become the main powerbroker in the country after he turned on his boss Bouteflika and helped ease him from office in the face of the mass protests.
He is pushing for elections on July 4 but demonstrators insist there must be a wholesale change at the top of the country before a new vote can be held.
Only two little-known figures have submitted their candidacies on time for the disputed poll, raising doubts about plans to stage it.
The rallies that erupted across the country in February after Bouteflika announced plans to seek a new term have largely been tolerated by security officials overwhelmed by the vast crowds.
Last Friday the police made numerous arrests in central Algiers of protesters carrying placards and the national flag.

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