The country’s Interior Ministry has banned Algeria from carrying out unauthorized protests, a move that observers say is aimed at ending a long-running protest movement seeking democratic reforms.
The announcement came on Sunday when protests by the Hirak movement have gained momentum over the past few weeks after a months-long disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in February 2019 to protest against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to seek a fifth term in office.
Those rallies culminated weeks in the terrible eight-year retirement.
The Interior Ministry said all protests, many of which have now turned into a wider call for systematic change, need a permit setting out the names of organizers and a start and end time for the demonstrations.
“If these procedures are not followed, it will violate the law and the constitution, which denies the legality of the march, and it will be necessary on this basis to deal with it,” the ministry said.
Such restrictions, even if permission were given, would mean that specific person would be formally held responsible for a hitherto leaderless protest movement.
The measures are in line with a clause in a new constitution approved by Algerian voters in November last year, in a referendum that drew only 25 percent turnout, requiring organizers to provide prior information before protests.
Some protesters believe the restrictions are aimed at ending all street protests.
“They are looking for reasons to justify any decision to ban marches,” Ahmed Badili, a member of Hirak, told Reuters news agency.
The restrictions come ahead of the early June 12 legislative election that would have President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who was elected in December 2019 in a vote boycotted by the protest movement, fair and transparent.
While Tebboune publicly praised the marches as a moment of national renewal and a dialogue with the movement, security forces detained protesters and criticized rights organizations.