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Thu Sep 12, 2019, 10:37 AM

Frustrated Algeria Army Chief Throws Down Gauntlet to Opposition

Algeria’s powerful army chief gave the country’s firebrand opposition an ultimatum to back its transition plans, signaling authorities have run out of patience with protesters’ efforts to delay presidential elections in the OPEC member.

“You are either clearly siding with Algeria or with its enemies,” Lt. General Ahmed Gaid Salah said Thursday in televised comments. “Algeria will overcome the crisis and no one will be able to stop this.”

His remarks came after authorities this week fast-tracked to parliament draft legislation to amend election laws and set up a commission to monitor the vote. The proposal was introduced shortly after Salah’s Sept. 2 call for election preparations to begin, and its speedy passage through the assembly could open the door for a vote in December.

Mass protests that ousted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April have showed no signs of abating, with the largely youth-led movement demanding the dismantling of the remnants of the regime and the old power-brokers known as ‘le Pouvoir.’ In an apparent bid to quash any dissent, the bill sets prison terms of between six months and three years for anyone opposing the elections commission’s decisions.

Authorities late Wednesday arrested Karim Tabbou, an activist with the Democratic and Social Union, a group that’s been calling for fully fledged civilian rule. TSA Algerie reported Tabbou is expected in court for a preliminary hearing today, without saying what he’ll be charged with.


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