Tens of thousands of Algerian protesters have rallied in the capital of Algiers and cities across the country demanding that the presidential election scheduled for December be cancelled.
The protesters reject the planned election, saying it cannot be free or fair while the military and senior officials from the old guard of the ruling hierarchy retain power and demand departure of acting leader Abdelkader Bensalah and powerful army Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah.
With three weeks to go before the December 12 vote for a new president, protesters have started demonstrating more often and the authorities are making more arrests.
Chanting “No election on Dec. 12!” and “Nothing will stop us!” as a police helicopter flew overhead, the demonstrators in Algiers continued their demands for an end to Algeria’s post-colonial political system.
Five presidential candidates running for the elections are all senior officials under former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who stepped down in April when the army withdrew support after six weeks of demonstrations against his plans to seek another term.
Algeria’s electoral authority has said the country’s presidential election next month will be contested by five candidates – all part of the political establishment that has drawn the ire of months-long protests demanding the departure of the ruling elite.
The contenders are former Prime Ministers Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Ali Benflis, former Culture Minister Azzedine Mihoubi, Tourism Minister Abdelkader Bengrine and Abdelaziz Belaid, head of the El Mostakbal Movement party.