Thousands of Algerians have come out in county’s capital, Algiers and other cities to protest the government’s inability to restructure governance since the departure of long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika by the popular Hirak movement.
The Marches had begun in March 2020 and was suspended due to coronavirus restrictions, but calls have recently circulated on social media for a return to the streets.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, elected in December 2019, announced a limited government reshuffle, in a bid to head off renewed rallies.
The reshuffle saw few major changes by Tebboune, who was once a prime minister under Bouteflika.
Among those retained are Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad and Justice Minister Belkacem Zeghmati, who is seen as a symbol of Algeria’s judicial crackdown on protesters and opposition activists.
Tebboune also signed a decree dissolving parliament, clearing the way for early elections, but no date has yet been set.
Zaki Hannache, a 33-year-old activist, said Hirak supporters were unimpressed by the president’s reshuffle and his call for early legislative polls.
“The reshuffle doesn’t interest me, it’s the same old people. Same thing with parliament, the new ones will work, like the current regime, for their own interests, not for the people,” he said.
Amnesty International on Monday accused the authorities of a calculated strategy to silence critics, based on an investigation it carried out on the cases of 73 activists who were “arbitrarily arrested” and prosecuted.
“Findings are evidence of a deliberate strategy to crush oppositions that speak out on the inability of the authorities to uphold human rights,” said Amna Guellali, the rights group’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Many of those given presidential pardons in recent days “were peaceful activists who should never have been detained in the first place,” she said.
Meanwhile, police have been deployed in force in the capital, where they set up security checkpoints and carried out identity checks around key flashpoints with helicopters hovering overhead.
At least 59 people have been arrested across the country, including 26 in Algiers, according to the CNLD prisoners’ rights group and AFP journalists.
Outside the capital, protests are also being done in Annaba, Oran, Setif and Mostaganem, according to witnesses and social media accounts.