Algeria: Victorious protesters want other officials out

A man reads a newspaper headlining Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's resignation, Wednesday April 3, 2019 in Algiers. Algeria's Constitutional Council met Wednesday to confirm President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's resignation, as rattled international partners watch closely to see what's next for this gas-rich country and key player in the global fight against terrorism. (AP Photo/Anis Belghoul)
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ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algerian protesters who succeeded in pushing out longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika now want other key officials to leave too.

Demonstrators are planning new nationwide protests Friday to call for the departure of the men who head Algeria’s government, legislature and constitutional court.

They’re dubbed “the three Bs” — Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, Constitutional Council President Tayeb Belaiz, and upper house of parliament president Abdelkader Bensalah.

But constitutional experts warn that forcing the three men out would leave a power vacuum. The protest movement hasn’t unified around a single alternative plan to govern Africa’s largest country and replace a leadership seen as corrupt and repressive.

Bouteflika resigned this week under pressure from protesters and the powerful army chief. Ally Bensalah is expected to take over as interim leader.

Calls for protests Friday have been issued under the slogan “they will all leave”.

Mohamed Saidj, professor of political science in Algiers, said many Algerians wouldn’t trust leadership by Bouteflika’s allies even for a transition period.

He stressed that Bedoui “used to be the interior minister who organized electoral fraud in 2012”, when Bouteflika has last been re-elected, and that he ordered police to prevent protests at the time.

“And everybody knows that Belaiz in one of Bouteflika’s men” who accepted his candidacy for a fifth term, Saidj added.

Ailing Bouteflika, 82, was first elected in 1999 and planned to seek a fifth term next month, a decision which prompted the first protests in February.

Lawyer Mustapha Bouchachi, a key figure of the protest movement, wrote on his Facebook page that “Algerians won’t accept the system’s figures to be the ones who organize the next presidential elections and supervise the transition period.”

Bouchachi called for “popular and pacifist protests to continue in order to get the whole system’s departure.”

Under the constitution, the president of the upper house, the Council of Nations, steps in as interim leader for a maximum of 90 days so that elections can be organized.

By AOMAR OUALI I Associated Press

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