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'We continue the fight': Thousands rally in Algeria despite president's call for dialogue

Protesters take to streets across country to denounce newly elected President Abdelmajid Tebboune and political establishment
Thousands shout slogans against newly elected President Abdelmajid Tebboune (AFP)

Tens of thousands of Algerians rallied for a 45th consecutive week in the country's capital on Friday, rejecting the newly elected president's plea for dialogue.

Thousands swarmed the streets of Algiers after Friday prayers, some draped in Algeria's white and green flag, chanting slogans against President Abdelmajid Tebboune and the military-dominated political system.

"Tebboune leave," the protesters chanted in unison. "A civil state, not a military one."

Demonstrations have continued since Tebboune's election two weeks ago, with protesters rejecting his invitation for dialogue and his vow to appoint young ministers and push for a new constitution.

Friday's protests took place just days after Ahmed Gaid Salah, Algeria's powerful army chief who masterminded the state's response to mass protests this year, died at the age of 79.

Previous protests had slammed Gaid Salah, particularly in the lead-up to a 12 December presidential election that was widely rejected by protesters who demanded deep-rooted political reforms before any poll.

Gaid Salah was instrumental in pushing for the vote that elected Tebboune.

Since 22 February, the country has been rocked by protests, first by demonstrators calling for the ouster of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and then by rallies pushing for a complete overhaul of the political system.

Turnouts at the marches have seen peaks and troughs, but Friday's demonstration seemed to be one of the smallest since the start of the unprecedented peaceful uprising. 

Still, those in the streets said they were determined to press ahead with the protest movement. 

"We are here, we continue the fight," said Hocine, a 50-year-old civil servant in the procession.

Pensioner Fatma Zohra added: "The government cannot win against the people. It is the people who decide. The movement is still strong."

Protests also took place in second and third cities, Oran and Constantine, and in other towns, but not in Annaba, hometown of Gaid Salah, according to a local journalist who said police prevented demonstrators from marching.

Before the protest got underway in Algiers, demonstrators seemed divided over the movement's post-election steps, with some saying they were determined to continue, while others said they were ready for talks with the government.

"I will march until we get a true democracy. I don't recognise this president," 55-year-old Akli said in an Algiers market, referring to Tebboune.