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22.11.2019 Africa

More than 80 held in Algiers protest: rights group

By AFP
Algerians protesting over next month's presidential election march in the capital on November 21, 2019.  By RYAD KRAMDI (AFP)
NOV 22, 2019 AFRICA
Algerians protesting over next month's presidential election march in the capital on November 21, 2019. By RYAD KRAMDI (AFP)

Authorities arrested more than 80 people during a night-time protest in the Algerian capital, a prisoners' rights group said Friday.

Demonstrators have been protesting against next month's presidential election which they allege aims to cement in power a political elite linked to former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Bouteflika quit in April after popular pressure.

The CNLD prisoners' rights committee said most of those detained in Thursday night's protest were taken to police stations in the suburbs of Algiers.

Hundreds of Algerians had turned out for the second night in a row to voice their anger over the presidential poll set for December 12.

They did so hours after an examining magistrate charged 29 people arrested during a similar protest on Wednesday night with holding an "unauthorised gathering".

Five candidates are to contest next month's election after the ailing Bouteflika, 82, was forced to step down after mass demonstrations in February against his bid for a fifth term.

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

On Friday, several hundred people had already gathered in central Algiers hours before the start of the 40th weekly protests, journalists posted on social networks.

Dozens of people have been arrested since the election campaign began last Sunday. Four were sentenced on Monday to 18 months in jail and 14 received suspended terms for disrupting a meeting.

"This is a campaign of repression, not an election campaign," chanted protesters seen in video footage released online by the independent news site TSA.

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