Algerians have demonstrated in the capital and other cities to mark the second anniversary of the anti-government ‘Hirak’ protest movement, which helped force long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power in April 2019.
Monday's demonstration in the center of Algiers was the largest since March 2020, when the movement suspended protest gatherings in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Security forces desperately attempted to block protesters from gathering around the Grand Post Office in the capital city, which was at the heart of the mass protests that kicked off on February 22, 2019 to oppose Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term.
“We are not here to celebrate, but to demand your departure,” the protesters shouted.
“The fateful hour has arrived,” read one banner brandished by demonstrators.
The crowd also chanted slogans such as “A civilian state not a military state,” “Enough is enough,” and “The people want independence.”
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Friday dissolved the lower house of parliament and called for snap legislative elections.
Tebboune, once a prime minister under Bouteflika, was elected in December 2019.
Zaki Hannache, a 33-year-old activist, said Hirak’s 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 (deputies) will work, like the current regime, for their own interests, not for the people.”
Elsewhere in the country, massive demonstrations were held in Annaba, Oran, Setif and Mostaganem.
In Algeria, the army has been at the helm since the country won its independence war against France in 1962.