The “Hirak” movement takes to the streets as President Tebboune cautions it against overstepping: Algeria

Algiers, April 7 2021: Supporters of the pro-democracy “Hirak” movement in Algeria have rejected the upcoming polls in June as a ploy to distract people from the socio-economic crisis the country is in. While the President, AbdelMadjid Tebboune, who called the polls has warned the movement against participating in what he calls “non-innocent” activities that may hinder the democratic process.

The president has called early elections for June 12 in an attempt to respond to the country’s political and socio-economic crisis.

The main demand of the group which was created in 2019, is an overhaul of the ruling system in place since the country’s independence in 1962. It was sparked in February 2019 over then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in office. The ailing strongman was forced to step down weeks later, but the Hirak continued with demonstrations as thousands have continued to defy a ban on gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic and taken to the streets for weekly protests, which were suspended for almost a year due to the health crisis.

It is alleged that the Hirak movement is being infiltrated by Islamist activists who are trying to drag it towards violence.The Algerian security body specifically mentioned the banned Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie, a traditionally restive region in the northeast, and the conservative Islamist-inspired Rachad movement, a party with no legal standing in Algeria.

In yesterday’s weekly student-led peaceful march, Protesters chanted “free the detainees” and brandished posters of detained supporters of the largely leaderless and politically unstructured movement. Hirak detainees included 24 people incarcerated on accusations of “undermining national unity”, after being arrested during a weekend Hirak march in Algiers, according to a prisoners’ rights group.

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