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Algerian finance minister, ex-police chief in court amid graft investigations

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Algerian finance minister, ex-police chief in court amid graft investigations

Graft

“Finance Minister Mohamed Loukal, a former central bank governor, who only got the job from Bouteflika in March, appeared in Algiers as part of an investigation into suspected misuse of public funds.

“Former police chief Abdelghani Hamel, who was sacked last year by Bouteflika for undisclosed reasons, and his son appeared in Tipaza, West of the capital.

“As part of an investigation into illegal activities, influence peddling, misappropriation of land and abuse of office,” state TV said.

It is unclear what happened in the courts.

Under the Algerian legal system, judges can look into ongoing investigations and decide whether to put people in custody or release them until inquiries are complete.

“Loukal and Hamel left court after being questioned by judges,’’ the private television channel Ennahar reported, without providing details.

However, none of the men or the lawyers defending them made any immediate comment.

Protesters took to the streets in February, calling for the ousting of Bouteflika and the dismantling of the political elite that surrounded his 20-year rule.

Bouteflika resigned on April 2 under pressure from the army, however, the protests have continued with calls for a handover to a new civilian-led government.

No fewer than five billionaires, some of them close to Bouteflika, have been placed in custody accused of involvement in corruption scandals.

Abdelkader Bensalah, head of the upper house of parliament, became interim president after Bouteflika’s departure.

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Algerian PM recommends teaching Chinese language by educational platforms

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Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad on Tuesday highlighted the necessity to include Chinese among the foreign languages taught by different educational platforms in this North African nation.

Attending the inauguration ceremony of a new TV channel named El Maarifa (knowledge), which is dedicated to offering distance learning, Djerad recommended teaching the Chinese language in the programs of this channel.

“In addition to Arabic and French, I recommend to add English, and Chinese in particular, in the learning programs,” Djerad said.

China is a world leading nation in the high tech sector, hence it’s necessary for us to master the Chinese language, in a bid to learn more about this far away civilization, and thus reinforcing our strong bilateral relations,” he said.

The new channel, the first of its kind, will provide distance learning content to Algerian students at all levels and all specialties, including those preparing for final exams.

This new TV channel broadcasts programs via Algeria’s Alcomsat 1 satellite.

(XINHUA)

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Sport

Algerian Ibbou finds presidential support after challenging Thiem over player fund

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Algerian Ines Ibbou was hailed as a hero by Venus Williams while her country’s president pledged full support after the low-ranked tennis player posted an emotional video to take on world No. 3 Dominic Thiem for his opposition to a player relief fund.

Thiem rejected the notion that top tennis players should chip in to help lower-ranked competitors who are struggling financially due to the pause in tournaments due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In the video, which runs over nine minutes and was posted on Ibbou’s Instagram page, the world number 620 starts with “Dear Dominic” and goes on to talk about the difficulties she has had to endure and the sacrifices she needed to make in her career.

The 21-year-old pleads with Thiem to understand the stark difference in the Austrian’s “magical world” and how she had to pursue tennis in the North African country, which she said lacked even basic infrastructure for the sport.

“I cherish the day when I’ll be able to afford a gift for my parents. I’m dreaming about this day,” said Ibbou, who started playing at the age of six but has only managed to make $27,825 in tournament earnings so far.

“I’m a lonely lady, travelling the world generally in three-legged trips, always looking for the cheapest tickets.”

World number one Novak Djokovic has urged fellow professionals to contribute to a fund set up by the sport’s governing bodies to help players affected by a shutdown which began in March and will continue at least until mid-July.

Austrian Thiem said he felt there were sections of society that needed more urgent help than his fellow competitors during the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

“Do you alternate clay and hard from a week to another like I do,” Ibbou questioned Thiem. “Do you finish your tournaments with holes in shoes like I do?”

“Dear Dominic, unlike you, many share my reality.

“Just a reminder, it’s not because of your money that we survived until now. And nobody requested to you anything.

“The initiative went from generous players who showed instant compassion with a classy touch.”

The governing bodies recently raised over $6 million to help lower-level players affected by the shutdown.

Ibbou said the crisis showed “who people truly are” and helping the needy players was only to help the game survive.

“We did not ask anything from you. Except a bit of respect to our sacrifice,” she said before signing off. “Players like you make me hold on to my dreams. Please, don’t ruin it.”

Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam singles winner, commented on the post: “You’re my hero.”

Ibbou replied: “You’ve always been mine too, and now you’re even more to me. Thank you so much.”

Australian Kyrgios, who had criticised Thiem for his comments, said “Respect!” before adding, “Keep doing you, I’m always willing to support.”

As Ibbou’s post gained popularity and was widely shared on social media, it caught the eye of Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

“Algeria can’t miss a sporting talent like Ines Ibbou in a young age and a flower of giving, in a specialty that is rarely born in it,” Tebboune said in a message for Ibbou on his official Facebook page.

“Soon, the ministry of youth and sports will take care of your work. You have my full support and I wish you success, God willing.”

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Algerian novelist wins Arab world’s top literary prize

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Algerian novelist Abdelouahab Aissaoui has won the Arab world’s top literary prize known as the Arabic Booker for his novel` The Spartan Court, ‘ the organisers, said on Tuesday.

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) was launched in Abu Dhabi in 2007 to recognise Arabic fiction and encourage its translation to other languages.

“The Spartan Court’’ follows five characters living in Algiers under colonialism in the early 1800s.

“It is polyphonic with multiple voices telling the story.’’

“Readers gain a multi-layered insight into the historical occupation of Algeria and, from this, the conflicts of the entire Mediterranean region,’’ said Muhsin al-Musawi, head of the judging panel.

Born in 1985 in Algeria’s central city of Djelfa, Aissaoui studied electromechanical engineering.

Since 2012, he has published five novels and a short story collection.

Every year a ceremony was held in the United Arab Emirates’ capital Abu Dhabi, but the announcement for 2020 was made online amid restrictive travel and movement measures worldwide due to the novel coronavirus.

Aissaoui’s grand prize includes 50,000 dollars and an English translation of his novel.

He was among six Arab writers shortlisted for the award, where each will receive 10,000 dollars.

The shortlisted novels did not reproduce the miserable reality for the reader, al-Musawi said, but instead included light, hope and salvation to humanity.

The prize is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by governmental Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

Edited By: Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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 Algerian novelist wins Arab world’s top literary prize

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Algerian novelist Abdelouahab Aissaoui, on Tuesday won the Arab world’s top literary prize, known as the `Arabic Booker` for his novel “The Spartan Court,” the organisers said.

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), was launched in Abu Dhabi in 2007 to recognise Arabic fiction and encourage its translation to other languages.

According to the head of panel of judges, Muhsin Al-Musawi, the Spartan Court is about five characters living in Algiers under colonialism in the early 1800s.

“It is polyphonic, with multiple voices telling the story. Readers gain a multi-layered insight into the historical occupation of Algeria and, from this, the conflicts of the entire Mediterranean region,” al-Musawi said.
Born in 1985 in Algeria’s central city of Djelfa, Aissaoui studied electro-mechanical engineering. However, since 2012, he had published five novels and a short story collection.

Every year a ceremony was held in the UAE’ capital Abu Dhabi, but the announcement for 2020 was made online amid restrictive travel and movement measures worldwide due to the novel coronavirus.
Aissaoui’s grand prize include: 50,000 dollars and an English translation of his novel. He was among six Arab writers shortlisted for the award, where each will receive 10,000 dollars.

According to Al-Musawi, the shortlisted novels did not reproduce the miserable reality for the reader, but instead included light, hope and salvation to humanity.

The prize is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by governmental Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Obike Ukoh (NAN)

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Algerian appeals court confirms prison sentences for former premiers

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An Algerian appeals court on Wednesday confirmed the prison sentences handed down to two former Algerian prime ministers in a corruption case.

The appeals court at the Algiers judicial council confirmed jail sentences of 15 years for Ahmed Ouyahia and 12 years for Abdelmalek Sellal on charges of squandering public funds and abusing authority.

The former leaders were convicted last December in a case related to car assembly plants and illegally funding the last election campaign of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Both premiers served under Bouteflika, who was forced to step down in April 2019 in the wake of nationwide protests and pressure from the country’s powerful military.

In the same ruling last December, two former industry ministers, Youcef Yousfi and Mahdjoub Bedda, were each handed 5-year prison sentences.

Also two businessmen were sentenced to four years and a third to three years in jail, a former provincial governor and one of Sellal’s sons were each given two years in jail.

Former transport and public works minister Abdelghani Zaalane was acquitted.

Bouteflika ruled energy-rich Algeria for two decades, an era that was dominated by cronyism and mismanagement.

In December, Abdelmadjid Tebboune took office as Algeria’s president.

Edited By: Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed meets Algerian Army Chief of Staff at UMEX 2020

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His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received on Monday, Major General Saïd Chengriha, Acting Chief of Staff of the Algerian National People's Army.

Chengriha is visiting the UAE to attend the Unmanned Systems Exhibition and Conference, UMEX, and the Simulation and Training Exhibition and Conference, SimTEX, currently staged at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed current ties between the UAE and Algeria, particularly in the military and defence sectors, and means to enhance cooperation to serve the interests of the two countries and their peoples. They also exchanged views on regional and international developments of mutual concern.

H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, was also present during the meeting, along with Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, and Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Under-Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court.

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Thousands of Algerians mark first anniversary of pro-reform protests

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Thousands of Algerians, on Friday took to the streets to mark the first anniversary of the commencement of pro-democracy protests that forced the country’s long-time ruler Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down.

The protests erupted in the North African country on February 22, 2019, against the regime of Bouteflika, who governed Algeria for two decades.

In April, Bouteflika was forced to resign under pressure from nationwide protests and the powerful army.

Demonstrations have since continued in the country, with protesters demanding the departure of Bouteflika, and an overhaul of the political system.

According to witnesses, protesters gathered in the capital, Algiers, pushing for radical reforms amid heavy deployment of police personnel.

The Algerian media reported that similar rallies were conducted in Algeria’s provinces of Bejaia and Tizi Ouzou.

On the eve of the protests, current Algeria President Abdelmadjid Tebboune warned against any attempt to infiltrate the demonstrations to incite violence.

However, upon Tebboune’s assumption of duty in December, he pledged massive political and economic reforms in an attempt to appease protesters.

Earlier, he announced plans to designate Feb. 22, as a National Holiday.

Opponents consider Tebboune to be part of Bouteflika’s authoritarian elite, since he served briefly as Prime Minister in 2017.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Ekemini Ladejobi

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Algerians keep up protests a year after demonstrations began

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Thousands of Algerians on Friday marched, a year since the start of weekly protests calling for a complete overhaul of the ruling elite, an end to corruption and the army’s withdrawal from politics.

“We will not stop,” chanted a crowd in the centre of the capital Algiers, in spite of a large police presence.

Over the past year the protesters have changed the face of Algeria’s power structure, causing the fall of a veteran president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and the arrest of dozens of leading figures including a once untouchable former intelligence chief.

However, while the new president has released people detained in the protests, set up a commission to amend the constitution and offered talks to the opposition, much of the old ruling elite remains in place.

The leaderless protest movement, known as “hirak”, is demanding more concessions, including the release of more activists and the departure of more senior figures from positions of power.

“Our hirak is tireless. We are ready to keep marching for months more,” said Yazid Chabi, a 23-year-old student on the central Didouche Mourad Street in central Algiers.

However, since December’s presidential election the number of protesters has fallen according to people attending the marches each week.

Hirak opposed the election, regarding as illegitimate any vote that took place while the old ruling elite was in power and while the military was involved in politics.

According to official statistics, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, a former prime minister seen by the protesters as part of the old elite, was elected, but turnout was only 40 per cent.

Report says even without the political unrest, his new government now faces a difficult economic year with energy revenues rapidly sinking, hitting state finances hard.

Chabi, who is studying law, said he has no expectation of finding work after he graduates.

“Algerians have been getting only promises. Nothing has improved in recent years because corruption is still there,” he said.

Two former prime ministers, several ex-ministers and prominent businessmen have been jailed after anti-graft investigations that followed protests demanding the prosecution of people involved in corruption.

Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad has said corruption and mismanagement resulted in a “delicate” economic situation for Algeria.

“Our country, being an OPEC member country, is also facing a negative impact from falling global crude oil prices.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Felix Ajide

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United Arab Emirates (UAE) condemns attack on Algerian army

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The UAE has strongly condemned an attack on a unit of the Algerian People’s National Army in an assault that killed one soldier near the border with Mali.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation affirmed the UAE’s utter rejection of these criminal acts and all forms of violence aimed at undermining security and stability in contravention of religious and human values and principles.

The Ministry expressed its deep condolences and sympathy to the government and the brotherly people of Algeria, as well as the family of the victim.

 

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