Algerians hold anti-government protest, jump on police vans
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Protesters flooded the streets of Algeria for the 13th straight Friday, climbing atop police vans that were blocking the main demonstration site in the capital in a bold show of defiance.
Security forces earlier fired tear gas into the crowd in Algiers to keep them out of the central post office plaza, but lifted their barricades after protesters climbed onto the roofs of their vehicles.
Tens of thousands of people came out in Algiers and other cities in the North African nation for a pro-democracy movement that started Feb. 22, despite the daylong fasting required by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
They reiterated demands that Algeria’s interim leader leave office and the country’s July 4 presidential election be scrapped.
Long-time former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down April 2, pressured by protests and the powerful army chief. The protests were triggered by Bouteflika’s plan to seek a fifth term after 20 years in office despite a 2013 stroke after which he was rarely seen in public.
Protesters now want other top officials, including interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, to leave office to ensure a new era for Algeria, which has been run since independence from France in 1962 by a generation that fought in the war.
“The mobilization must continue,” said sociologist Mohamed Henned. However, he added that there must be “political and institutional (structures) for this citizens’ movement” to ensure success for the transitional phase they seek.
Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who is also targeted by some protesters, has insisted on the need to hold a presidential vote on July 4, the date set by the interim leader, to respect the constitution.