Tens of thousands protest in Algeria three weeks before elections
Algiers - Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Algiers on Friday rallying against the upcoming presidential elections, as candidates continue their campaigns ahead of the December 12 polls.
Protests began earlier this year in Algeria against Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid to run for a fifth term in office. In April, Bouteflika was forced to resign under pressure from the street and the military.
On Friday, protesters reiterated their slogan "All of them must step down," which they have used for months, voicing their demand that key Bouteflika-era officials should resign before the country holds new elections.
While protests have taken place every Friday and Tuesday since Bouteflika's resignation, rallies have increasingly gained momentum in recent weeks as they hope to increase pressure on authorities in the run up to the vote.
Algerian authorities have defended the election plan, saying it is necessary to end the long-running stand-off in the country.
Five contenders are vying for the presidency, including Ali Benflis and Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who both served as premiers under Bouteflika.
Bouteflika, now aged 82, ruled energy-rich Algeria for two decades, an era that was dominated by cronyism and mismanagement.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warned that Algerian journalists are under growing pressure to portray the election favourably.
Four journalists with the pro-government daily Le Temps d'Algérie were suspended, when one of them accused management of censoring him and "dictating a shameful editorial line." The other three were also suspended when they walked out in solidarity, RSF said.dpa