Algerians protest in thousands to reject talks with new President

ALGIERS (AFP) – Students, teachers and other demonstrators rallied in their thousands in Algeria’s capital on Tuesday against the newly elected president, rejecting his offer of dialogue with a months-old protest movement.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune won 58.1 per cent of the vote in the December 12 election, according to official results, and last Friday said he was ready for talks to “build a new Algeria”.

But protesters, long opposed to an election they saw as a ploy by the establishment to consolidate power after ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned under popular pressure in April, remained defiant. Chants of “The election was fixed! It wasn’t legitimate! The march will continue!” filled the air in Algiers during the first weekly rally since the poll, an AFP journalist said.

Security forces were heavily deployed, but there were no confrontations with demonstrators.

“Tebboune will not govern us!” protesters shouted, vowing to keep the poll winner from taking up residence at the presidential palace.

He is set to be sworn in during a ceremony in Algiers today, the presidency said.

The protest movement has rocked Algeria since February, initially demanding Bouteflika step down then pushing for the remnants of his regime to make way for new, independent institutions. Turnout in the election was 39.9 per cent, according to the constitutional council.