By John Ikani
President of Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune has pardoned over 1,000 convicts and ordered “clemency measures” for 70 people detained over links to the country’s Hirak protest movement.
Announcing the move which coincide with start of Ramadan, the Presidency issued a statement noting that Tebboune signed “a presidential decree pardoning 1,076 convicted detainees” on the occasion of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
He also “ordered clemency measures for 70 people accused in matters of public disorder”, the statement added.
Among those released was a rights campaigner, Zaki Hannache, who was arrested in February for allegedly promoting terrorist acts and spreading false news.
The nonpartisan Hirak – Arabic for “movement” – was mobilized first to oppose then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term. After forcing his resignation, the Hirak demanded the departure of the ruling elite and a transition toward more democratic governance.
Protests continued even after Mr Tebboune came to power. He was rejected by the Hirak who regarded him as an extension of the old political system.
The National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees or CNLD, a group created to with the aim of supporting and obtaining the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Algeria said earlier this week that prominent Hirak figure Chems Eddine Laalami, known as Brahim, had been provisionally freed.
Laalami was among the first to demonstrate against Bouteflika’s 2019 announcement he would run for a fifth term in office.
Also released was rights campaigner Zaki Hannache, detained in February for allegedly defending terrorist acts and spreading false news.
Until the latest releases, the CNLD had said around 300 people were being held in Algeria in relation to the Hirak, journalism or activism.