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17.12.2019 Algeria

Algerians protest in thousands to reject talks with new president

By AFP
Thousands protested in Algiers Tuesday in the first weekly demonstration since the election of a new president.  By RYAD KRAMDI (AFP)
LISTEN DEC 17, 2019
Thousands protested in Algiers Tuesday in the first weekly demonstration since the election of a new president. By RYAD KRAMDI (AFP)

Students, teachers and other demonstrators rallied in their thousands in Algeria's capital Tuesday against the newly elected president, rejecting his offer of dialogue with a months-old protest movement.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune won 58.1 percent of the vote in Thursday's election, according to official results, and on Friday said he was ready for talks to "build a new Algeria".

But protesters, long opposed to an election they saw as a ploy by the establishment to consolidate power after ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned under popular pressure in April, remained defiant.

Shouts of "The election was fixed! It wasn't legitimate! The march will continue!" filled the air in Algiers during the first weekly rally since the poll, an AFP journalist said.

Security forces were heavily deployed, but there were no confrontations between them and demonstrators.

"Tebboune will not govern us!" protesters shouted, vowing to keep the poll winner from taking up residence at the presidential palace.

The protest movement has rocked Algeria since February, initially demanding Bouteflika step down then pushing for the remnants of his regime to make way for new, independent institutions.

Turnout in the election was 39.9 percent, according to the constitutional council.

All five candidates had links to Bouteflika, who ruled for two decades despite suffering a debilitating stroke in 2013.

Tebboune is also seen as close to army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who became the country's de facto strongman following Bouteflika's departure.

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