The US and the EU support Algerians’ freedom to gather peacefully and protest.
Rabat – The US and the EU have called on Algerian authorities to respect citizens’ rights to peacefully protest against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika‘s re-election.
On Tuesday, in Washington, D.C., the US State Department’s deputy spokesperson, Robert Palladino, told journalists, “The United States supports the Algerian people and their right to peacefully assemble.”
“We’re monitoring these protests that are happening in Algeria and we’re going to continue to do that,” added Palladino.
In Brussels, the spokeswoman for the European Commission, Maja Kocijancic, has called on Algerian authorities to respect “freedom of expression and assembly.”
“When we talk about demonstrations, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly are enshrined in the Algerian Constitution,” said Kocijancic.
“We are expecting for these rights to be exercised peacefully and guaranteed in accordance with the rule of law,” she emphasized.
Kocijancic stressed Brussels’ commitment “to continue to deepen our relations with the aim of creating a common and shared space of stability, democracy, and prosperity.”
Bouteflika’s announcement on February 10 that he would seek re-election for a fifth term has angered Algerians who have taken to the streets to protest Bouteflika’s bid.
Algeria will go to the polls April 18. Bouteflika has promised he would not serve a full five-year term but would organize a national conference for early elections if he wins.
Algerian army committed to security
The Algerian army’s top officer, General Gaid Salah, stated on Tuesday that the army will remain “the guarantor” of stability and security against those “who want to take [Algeria] back” to the years of civil war.
Algeria experienced a brutal civil war in the 1990s between the government and armed Islamic groups. The war eased following the 1999 election of Bouteflika, who introduced an amnesty law.
Approximately 200,000 people died in the civil war, including journalists, citizens, and soldiers. By 2002, Algeria had tracked down all the armed Islamists, although some had pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda and fled the country.
In a visit to the military academy in Chercheil, 80 kilometers from Algiers, Salah noted that Algeria has made important steps to eradicate terrorist cells and “abolished their goals.” He said some parties were displeased to see Algeria “stable and certain.”
Salah, who is close to Bouteflika, has promised the Algerian people that they will always enjoy security and stability, calling them to “know how to erect a rampart against anything that could expose Algeria to unpredictable threats.”