Algeria: Man tries to set himself on fire amid protests pushing for reforms
A man sought unsuccessfully to set himself on fire on Friday as tens of thousands of Algerians rallied to push for reforms and the departure of the ruling elite. For the 21st consecutive Friday, crowds gathered, now demanding more rapid change after they brought about the end of Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s two-decade rule in April.
Protesters marched with banners reading: “Our protest movement will continue”, “We want democracy and freedom” and “Thieves, you have looted the country”. One man in Algiers took a match to his clothes, but other demonstrators intervened, dousing him with water, a Reuters photographer saw.
France 24 reports that the crowds of Algerians defied a massive police deployment Friday to protest against the government, buoyed by the national football team’s qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.
After celebrating all night their side’s defeat of Ivory Coast on penalties, Algerians flooded the streets of the capital to once again press their demands for an overhaul of the North African country’s political leadership.
The protests in Algiers and other cities went ahead even though an opposition figure was elected chairman of parliament this week for the first time in Algeria’s history. The election on Wednesday of Slimane Chenine – who usually takes part in the Friday protests – as head of the National Assembly was widely seen as an attempt by authorities to appease the street demonstrations.