ALGIERS: Thousands of Algerians on Friday staged new anti-government protests, demanding the country’s former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika be put on trial.
In April, Bouteflika was forced to resign in the wake of nationwide protests and pressure from the North African country’s powerful military.
Demonstrations have since continued every Friday in Algeria, demanding removal of the key Bouteflika-era officials and bring corrupt suspects to justice.
Earlier this week, judges at the country’s top court ordered two Bouteflika-era prime ministers held in custody as part of investigations into alleged corruption.
On Friday, protesters gathering in the centre of the capital Algiers called for the prosecution of Bouteflika as well.
“He was the one who opened the road for this gang to drown the country in looting and corruption,” Osmani Sulaiman, a 25-year-old protester said. He was referring to ex-government officials now facing corruption charges.
Other protesters called for public trials for the suspects.
“The people have the right to follow, at least on television, the trial of those who have brought misery to us,” Isma Ghalumi, a 33-year-old protester, said. “The people will not allow trials to beheld behind closed doors,” she added.
Since his resignation, Algeria has launched a crackdown against senior officials and businessmen close to Bouteflika. Prominent figures under investigation include former energy minister Chakib Khelil and Bouteflika’s younger brother Said.
Meanwhile, Algeria’s supreme court on Thursday remanded ex-prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal in custody over graft allegations, state TV said, in a crackdown on alleged corruption and cronyism among associates of former president Bouteflika.
The court later ordered the detention of former trade minister Amara Benyounes over his alleged involvement in corruption scandals, private channel Ennahar TV reported, without elaborating.
Sellal is one of the closest Bouteflika associates to be detained since mass protests broke out in February, demanding the prosecution of people that protesters regarded as corrupt as well as sweeping democratic change.