Karim Tabbou

Political opponent “kidnapped” as army seeks to impose presidential election


Increasingly cornered by the popular uprising, the army’s higher command has decided to lock up anyone it deems a threat to it’s authority. The latest victim of this rise in the repression of political opponents is Karim Tabbou, a popular figure and vocal critic of the army’s chief Ahmed Gaid Salah.

Karim Tabbou, a Berber, pro-democracy activist and the coordinator of the UDS, was arrested, yesterday in Algiers, by men in plain clothes. An arrest described as a “kidnapping” and largely condemned by all fringes of Algerian society.

The political opponent was arrested earlier in the afternoon by two men in plainclothes who showed up unannounced at his home. They told his family that he would be released in two hours. But by 6 P.M, Karim Tabbou had not returned and his family had no news.

Tabbou was taken to “Antar”, a secret service base in Algiers that has the reputation of being where the Algerian secret service torture opponents to the regime.

The Democratic and Social Union (UDS), confirmed the news in a statement: “Karim Tabbou was arrested at his home in Douira (Algiers) by two men in civilian clothes who presented themselves as secret service agents”.

Subsequently, Karim Tabbou was charged with “weakening the army’s morale”, a vague charge used in the past against other vocal critics of the authorities, including war veteran Lakhdar Bouregaa.

Karim Tabbou, former 1st secretary of the FFS party, is one of the popular figures of the peaceful pro-democracy revolution (Hirak) in Algeria, he is regularly seen taking part in the large anti-regime protests.

He joins dozens of other political prisoners still in custody in the country; a rise in repression denounced by Human Rights Watch this week.

Forced presidential election

Ahmed Gaid Salah has been accused of trying to force a presidential election when the majority of Algerians reject it. The Algerian people consider that a transitional period is necessary to succeed in organizing a transparent and fraud-free election.

Increasingly, the demonstrators have been calling for Ahmed Gaid Salah to step down, hostilities towards his leadership can be observed regularly during protests. Algerians have also vowed to boycott the election and impede its organizing, calls for civil disobedience have multiplied.

It should be recalled that Abdelaziz Bouteflika appointed Ahmed Gaid Salah and in 2013 he was quoted as publicly stating “I will be at the service of war hero Bouteflika until death”. When Abdelaziz Bouteflika sought a 5th reelection, Ahmed Gaid Salah publicly backed him.

(Article last updated on 12/09/2019 at 22:32)