Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Members of the Algerian security forces stand on guard as protesters gather during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on April 5, 2019.

-/AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding radical change marched through Algiers for a seventh successive Friday, as Algeria’s spy chief was reportedly fired in a further sign of high-level turbulence after the veteran president resigned.

The demonstrators are pushing for the removal of what they see as an outdated and opaque political apparatus, built around the ruling party, army officers, businessmen, unions and veterans of a 1954-62 independence war against France.

“We want a new generation to govern this wealthy country and to secure a better future for the people,” said 80-year-old woman Yamina, standing with her five grandchildren as crowds jammed downtown streets.

Story continues below advertisement

“We want to uproot the symbols of the system,” said teacher Ahmed Badili, as hundreds of people waved national flags from the balconies of buildings. Others handed out sweets and bottled water.

The intelligence chief, retired army general Athmane Tartag, was a close ally of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who quit on Tuesday under pressure from the army.

The military said it was acting in the national interest after weeks of largely peaceful anti-government demonstrations.

Algerians march during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on April 5, 2019.

-/AFP/Getty Images

Western powers are eager for stability in the OPEC oil producer, Africa’s largest country by land mass and a key gas supplier for Europe and partner to fight militants.

Mr. Bouteflika’s departure has not eased tensions despite the appointment of a caretaker government which will stay in office until elections in three months’ time.

This Friday, protesters pushed for the removal of Prime Minister Nouredine Bedoui, upper house of parliament chairman Abdelkader Bensalah and Tayeb Belaiz, head of the constitutional council – all seen as establishment figures.

Many banners read “3B’s must go.”

Story continues below advertisement

In the weeks before his resignation, Mr. Bouteflika’s inner circle had already been depleted by the exit of several close allies from influential positions in politics and business.

Mr. Tartag’s departure was reported by the private Ennahar TV, and two political sources confirmed that he had been sacked.

Ennahar added that his position would return to the supervision of the Defence Ministry, rather than the presidency, a move that appears to strengthen the army’s hand.

The intelligence service has in the past been an important part of the military’s influence in national affairs, and played a backroom role in politics as well as in the 1990s civil war.

But in 2016, Mr. Bouteflika removed it from the supervision of the defence ministry and placed it under the authority of the presidency to try to ease it out of the political sphere.

Protesters want to remove any traces of the old guard and introduce sweeping democratic reforms. But no clear successor to Mr. Bouteflika has yet emerged and Algeria’s opposition is fragmented.

Story continues below advertisement

The uncertainty means the army is likely to continue playing its role as kingmaker with little resistance, guiding the sensitive transition process.

Unlike in past protests, when some Algerians said the army should not interfere in civilian matters, there were signs of support for the military in the latest demonstration. Some banners said “the people and the army are brothers.”

Some protesters saw humour in Algeria’s crisis: “Any country interested in toppling its system, we are ready to help. Please send a copy of the constitution. You also need an appointment and we only work on Friday,” read one banner.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies