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
Oil prices fall as rising coronavirus case numbers cast shadow over fuel demand pickup
This is just as major producers ramp up output.
The slide comes after WTI rose 1.8 per cent and Brent climbed 1.5 per cent on Monday on better-than-expected data on manufacturing activity in Asia, Europe and the United States.
“On the demand side, we had quite encouraging global manufacturing (data) … but there’s still quite a bit of evidence of the oil demand recovery stalling in quite a few markets with a resurgence of COVID-19,’’ said Lachlan Shaw, Head of commodity research at National Australia Bank (NAB).
Denting fuel demand, cities from Manila to Melbourne are tightening lockdowns to battle new infections, while Norway has stopped cruise ship traffic in the latest European travel alarm.
In a further sign of a patchy rebound in demand, analysts estimate United States refined product stockpiles rose last week, according to a preliminary Reuters’ poll ahead of data due from the American Petroleum Institute industry group later on Tuesday and the United States government on Wednesday.
Five analysts estimated, on average, that United States inventories of gasoline rose by 600,000 barrels.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, likely grew by 800,000 barrels, while crude stocks fell by 3.3 million barrels in the week to July 31.
At the same time producers in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, together known as OPEC+, are stepping up output this month, adding around 1.5 million barrels a day of supply.
United States producers also plan to restart shut-in production and inventories remain near historical highs.
“I think it is fair to say that most oil market participants expected more downward pressure on oil to start the week with COVID-19 ravaging the landscape and OPEC+ adding more barrels into play,’’ said Stephen Innes, Chief Global Markets Strategist at AxiCorp, in a daily note.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Algeria to reopen mosques for public – President
The president made the remarks during a meeting of the High Security Council attended by top military and security officials as well as cabinet members to assess the COVID-19 epidemic inside the country.
Tebboune instructed Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad to programme a gradual reopening of mosques.
He added that the first phase of the programme will be limited to 1,000 large mosques in the country, which “will be able to allow the essential physical distancing with the imperative wearing of masks by all’’.
The prime minister was authorised to estimate the reopening of beaches and other places for recreation and relaxation.
Mosques, beaches and parks in the country have been closed since mid-March, as part of measures taken by the authorities to stem the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases near 860,000- Africa CDC
The centre said that the number of confirmed cases in Africa rose from 846,311 on Monday to 859,237 as of Tuesday afternoon, registering close to 13,000 new positive cases during the stated period.
The agency also said that some 506,534 patients, who tested positive for COVID-19 had so far recovered across the continent.
“South Africa, which had so far reported 452,529 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases, is Africa’s highest affected country in terms of positive cases, followed by Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Morocco, it said.
“The Southern Africa region is the most affected area in terms of confirmed cases, followed by Northern Africa and Western Africa regions respectively,” the Africa CDC said.
The centre had recently said that some 40 African countries were still under “full border closure” while night-time curfew had been activated across around 34 countries in an effort to halt the spread of the infectious virus.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases near 860,000: Africa CDC
The Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of the 55-member African Union (AU) Commission in its latest situation update issued on Tuesday, said that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the continent rose from 846,311 on Monday to 859,237 as of Tuesday afternoon, registering close to 13,000 new positive cases during the stated period.
The Africa CDC report also said that the number of deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic rose to 18,160 as of Tuesday afternoon, up from 17,747 on Monday afternoon.
The continental disease control and prevention agency also stressed that some 506,534 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered across the continent so far.
South Africa, which has so far reported 452,529 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases, is Africa’s highest affected country in terms of positive cases, followed by Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Morocco, it was noted.
The Southern Africa region is the most affected area in terms of confirmed cases, followed by Northern Africa and Western Africa regions, respectively, the Africa CDC said.
Amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the African continent, the Africa CDC had recently said that some 40 African countries are still under “full border closure” while night-time curfew has been activated across around 34 countries in an effort to halt the spread of the infectious virus.