Rabat – Algeria’s military has ordered police to ban protesters demonstrating outside the capital from entering Algiers, reported France24.
After months of mass protests, the Algerian army chief announced the blockade today, September 18.
“I have instructed the national gendarmerie to deal with these actions with firmness,” said General Ahmed Gaid Salah, who is seen as de facto leader after the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
According to the news outlet, Gaid Salah said that orders had been issued to stop “vehicles and coaches used” to bring protestors to the Algiers by seizing them and “fining their owners.”
Mass protests demand political reforms and the removal of the former president’s circle of loyalists, including Gaid Salah, before organizing an election. Despite this, the army chief has led the push for polls to be held by the end of the year.
Gaid Salah accused “certain parties” of using “freedom of movement as a pretext to justify their dangerous behavior” and of “falsely claiming to be the voice of the Algerian people.”
In spite of Gaid Salah’s accusations, the protests persist. The people are demanding a full overhaul of the regime and demand constitutional changes and other reforms before a legitimate election can be held.
Presidential polls originally planned for July 4 were postponed due to the lack of viable candidates. This dragged the country into a constitutional crisis due to the fact that the 90-day mandate for Bensalah expired in early July.
The army’s high command rejected any solution to the crisis other than presidential elections “in the shortest time possible.”