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With Bouteflika gone, protesters in Algeria demand more change

Hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding the departure of Algeria’s ruling elite rallied in the North African nation’s capital on Friday and police reported nearly 200 arrests after clashes that left more than 80 officers injured.

Police in anti-riot gear fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred youths in the city centre, witnesses said, after an otherwise largely peaceful march joined by families throughout the day.

Police arrested 180 people after clashes with “infiltrators” among the demonstrators who injured 83 policemen, a police statement said.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down after 20 years in power 10 days ago, bowing to pressure from the army and weeks of demonstrations mainly by young people seeking change in the country.

But the protests, which began on Feb. 22 and have been largely peaceful, have continued as many want the removal of an elite that has governed Algeria since independence from France in 1962 and the prosecution of people they see as corrupt.

Bouteflika has been replaced by Abdelkader Bensalah, head of the upper house of parliament, as interim president for 90 days until a presidential election on July 4.

“No to Bensalah,” the protesters chanted on Friday.

Reuters correspondents at the scene estimated the crowd size at hundreds of thousands of people as on previous Fridays, although there was no official count… Continue Reading

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