Police have been deployed in large numbers in Algiers on Friday morning before the 24th large weekly demonstration against the regime, following the refusal of the army to bow to the demands formulated by the ‘dialogue panel’ of “measures of appeasement” as a prerequisite to a hypothetical dialogue.
In the city centre’s ‘La Grande Poste’, a building in the heart of Algiers and a weekly gathering place for the demonstration, hundreds of plainclothes and uniformed police officers were deployed. The police proceeded to arrest a dozen people, for unknown reasons, and taken in a van that left the scene.
As has been the case in recent weeks, a large number of police vans were parked in uninterrupted lines on both sides of the main axes of the city centre, limiting the space normally used by the demonstrators and hindering access to the street from the sidewalks. Other vehicles also blocked access to several streets leading to these main roads.
As early as the demonstrations started, a number of demonstrators could be heard shouting “assassin regime!“. According to videos posted on social networks, the demonstrators also chanted slogans hostile to the army chief of staff, General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, the true power holder in the country since the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on the 2nd of April. The demonstrators also categorically rejected any “dialogue with the gang” in power.
Thursday, a week after its establishment, ‘the National Forum of dialogue’, which is becoming increasingly contested, said it would begin “immediately” its consultations to define the terms of the presidential election.
Faced with criticism of playing the regime’s game, this body had committed not to begin its work unless “appeasement measures” were put in place, which would have included an end of the repression and the release of political prisoners.
Measures rejected “categorically” Tuesday by General Gaid Salah who referred to the measures as a “diktat“.
Lack of trust in a panel set up by the regime
The lack of trust in the panel of six personalities has been emphasised this week when two of its members quit the panel.
The panel also lost most of its credibility in the eyes of the Algerian people, after backing down on the appeasement measures it initially stated were a prerequisite to any dialogue with the regime, promptly starting the work on organising the presidential election, an election the Algerian people reject.
When the Algiers Herald questioned its readers in a poll on the confidence they have in this panel to conduct a genuine dialogue, 89% voted ‘no’ with only 11% approving of the panel, at the time of the writing of this article. The results of this quick poll are subject to change, but likely marginally.