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Police uses water cannons to disperse Algerian protesters

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Members of the Algerian police use a water cannon to disperse an anti-government demonstration heading towards the presidential palace in the capital Algiers, on February 22, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

The Algerian police have used water cannons disperse protesters marking the first anniversary of their anti-government movement.

Civilians flooded the streets of Algiers commemorating the anti-government protest movement that started a year ago on February 22, 2019, spreading to all regions from the country, on Saturday.

The protest came after the recent announcement of country's current president Abdelmadjid Tebboune to designate February 22 as "National day of brotherhood and cohesion between people and its army for the democracy."

The crowd marched towards the Presidency, however, the authorities closed their way using water cannons to repel the demonstrators.

Dubbed the 'Smile Revolution', mass demonstrations began after 82-year-old then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would be running for a fifth term in office.

While Bouteflika dropped his bid and ultimately resigned in April, protests continued with the movement, which is known as “hirak,” demanding a complete political overhaul.

In December, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, once a prime minister under Bouteflika, was elected president in elections boycotted by many people.

Tebboune on Thursday praised the protest movement and pledged to implement “all of its demands.”

But organizations close to the protest movement urged “continued mobilization” in a manifesto published Thursday to force out members of the old guard. They condemned the state for taking “repressive measures” against journalists, activists, and protesters.

Algerians “want their country ruled and managed with transparency” by “accountable officials, an independent judiciary and a parliament that is not a rubber stamp body,” they wrote in the manifesto.

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