Algerian protesters demand jailed opposition leader’s release

Algiers: Hundreds of Algerians gathered in the capital on Friday for the 12th straight week of anti-government rallies and demanded the release of opposition leader Louisa Hanoune from prison.
On Thursday, prosecutors at a military court in Algiers ordered the temporary incarceration of Hanoune, the head of the leftist Workers’ Party, on unknown charges, her party said.
So far, there has been no official confirmation of her arrest.
The 65-year-old politician was an outspoken critic of former Algerian president Abdulaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign last month.
Demonstrators on Friday rallied to the Central Post square, a focal point of the weekly protests in the capital.
They demanded Hanoune be released, or put on trial at a civil court if there were specific charges against her. “I oppose Louisa Hanoune’s political stances. But this does not mean she faces a military trial without the public knowing what are the charges filed against her,” Maysoum Ait, a protester, said.
Algeria’s official news agency APS reported that the military court had summoned Hanoune on Thursday in connection with ongoing investigations into three key allies of Bouteflika, including his younger brother.
Weeks of street protests and pressure from the influential military forced Bouteflika to step down after he had governed the energy-rich North African country for 20 years.
Meanwhile, an Algerian state television presenter has been fired after slamming the media’s role in supporting the regime of ex-leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika and pushing for greater freedoms, colleagues said on Thursday.
Abderrezak Siah, who hosted the evening news on the A3 channel, was dismissed by the outlet’s management on Saturday, Canal Algeria reporter Abdelmadjid Benkaci said.
Demonstrators in the north African country are pressing for sweeping reforms after Bouteflika resigned last month in the face of huge protests. At an event on April 29, Siah lambasted broadcasters for their slavish backing of the veteran’s 20-year rule and called for a freer media.
— dpa