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Algerians protest against December presidential poll

Algerians bang on pots and pans as they protest against the December 12 presidential election they say will cement in power a political elite rejected by the people

Algiers, Algeria | AFP | Hundreds of Algerians took to the streets of the capital Thursday to protest against next month’s presidential election, despite a crackdown during which dozens were arrested.

Around 300 protesters chanted “We will have freedom!” and “We will not retreat!” and banged on pots as motorists showed their support by sounding their horns, AFP journalists said.

Police broke up the Algiers protest and some 30 people were detained, the journalists added.

The demonstration came hours after an examining magistrate charged 29 people arrested during a similar protest on Wednesday night with holding an “unauthorised gathering”, lawyer Zakaria Belahreche said.

If found guilty they could face one year in jail.

Five candidates will contest the December 12 poll, but protesters allege the vote aims to cement in power the political elite linked to former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika who resigned in April under pressure from the street.

The ailing Bouteflika, 82, was forced to quit after demonstrations erupted in February against his bid for a fifth term.

Since then Algeria has seen weekly Friday protests demanding major reforms to a political system that has been in place since independence from France in 1962.

To protesters’ disappointment, all five candidates seeking to replace Bouteflika are known to have links to him, and two are former prime ministers who served under him.

Ex-premiers Ali Benflis, 75, and Abdelmadjid Tebboune, 73, are considered the two frontrunners in the race.

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