Algeria president says intends to run for second termThu, 11 Jul 2024 16:12:52 GMT

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, accused of leading a crackdown on dissent since mass protests in 2019, announced Thursday he will seek a second term in an election set for September.Tebboune, 78, was elected in 2019 with 58 percent of the vote, following months of pro-democracy protests.”Given the desire of many parties, political and non-political organisations, and youth, I announce my intention to run for a second term,” he said in an interview posted on the presidency’s official Facebook page.”All the victories achieved are the victories of the Algerian people, not mine,” he said.Tebboune announced in March that the presidential election will be held on September 7, three months ahead of schedule. He gave no reasons for the decision.Thursday’s announcement had been expected after several pro-government parties called in recent weeks for his reelection.He joins a field of more than 30 hopefuls who have said they intend to stand.The final list of candidates will be published on July 27 but Tebboune enters the race as favourite.A former prime minister under longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was ousted during the 2019 protests, Tebboune has overseen a crackdown on the Hirak movement that led the protests.The protests continued in the early months of his presidency because of his own association with Bouteflika’s two-decade rule.Taking advantage of the restrictions on gatherings required during the Covid pandemic, Tebboune’s administration banned demonstrations by Hirak and stepped up prosecutions of dissident activists, journalists and academics.In February, human rights watchdog Amnesty International said that five years after the pro-democracy protests erupted, Algerian authorities were still restricting the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.In a report based on testimonies of detainees, families and lawyers, Amnesty said Algerian authorities had “escalated their repression of peaceful dissent” since the Hirak protests fizzled out in early 2020.”It is a tragedy that five years after brave Algerians took to the streets in their masses to demand political change and reforms, the authorities have continued to wage a chilling campaign of repression,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director, Heba Morayef.The London-based watchdog said hundreds of people had been arbitrarily arrested and detained and that dozens of peaceful protesters, journalists and activists still languished behind bars.It called for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained. Algeria ranks 136 out of 180 countries and territories in the World Press Freedom Index published by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.