Algerian judges and lawyers push for post-Bouteflika overhaul


Dozens of Algerian judges and lawyers on Saturday gathered in the capital Algiers, backing popular demands for a radical change in the country after veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced this month to resign.

Clad in their professional robes, the judges and lawyers rallied outside the Justice Ministry headquarters in Algiers also calling for independence of the justice system against perceived state interference, witnesses said. Some demonstrators held placards reading: "Independence of the judiciary guarantees the rule of law."

The judges who participated in the march said they would refuse to oversee presidential elections scheduled for July, Algerian online newspaper Elkhabar reported.

The announcement builds on a similar pledge by the Free Judges' Club, an independent Algerian judicial union comprising around 1,000 judges.

The union said in a statement on Friday that its decision to boycott the upcoming polls was a show of solidarity for a massive protest movement that demands the removal of Bouteflika-era officials, including newly appointed president Abdelkader Bensalah.

On Tuesday, the parliament appointed Bensalah to lead the North African country for a three-month transitional stage. Bensalah has set the presidential vote for 4 July. 

The opposition regards Bensalah as an ally of the former president and demands he step down.

Bouteflika, 82, was forced to resign on 2 April after weeks of nationwide protests against his 20-year rule and pressure from the influential military. The opposition has since called for an overhaul of the political system in the country.    (dpa)

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