Stalemate in Algeria six months after start of protests that ousted leader

Six months after a wave of protests began in Algeria, people are still demonstrating and the military-backed government appears determined to keep its grip on power.

The demonstrations have gained a familiar rhythm since tens of thousands of Algerians first took to the streets on 22 February. Thousands of students turn out on Tuesdays and there are larger protests each Friday.

“We didn’t come to negotiate, we came to kick you out,” read one placard brandished last Friday. On Tuesday this week the number of demonstrators swelled as older Algerians joined students in the heat, defiant in the face of government efforts to curb the protests by closing off areas of the capital and introducing new rules for demonstrations.

The movement that unseated the former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika is now locked in a stalemate with a regime bent on showing it can keep the upper hand and outlast the protests.

Weeks of mass demonstrations forced the 82-year-old Bouteflika to resign in April, and the protesters pressured the authorities to cancel presidential elections originally scheduled for 4 July.

Since then, the opaque coalition of political and military figures considered the country’s true power, known as le pouvoir, has been reluctant to make any further concessions.

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