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Algeria’s hydrocarbon reform adds fuel to protest movement

Algeria’s interim government claims to be undertaking economic reforms of the energy sector, but protesters see the effort as an attempt to shore up economic and diplomatic support heading into December presidential elections.
A demonstrator with tapes over her mouth takes part in a protest against the country's ruling elite and to demand an end to corruption and the army's withdrawal from politics in Algiers, Algeria October 29, 2019. Picture taken October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina - RC16C289BE60

Thousands of demonstrators returned to the streets of Algeria on Oct. 30 to protest the system of entrenched power that they feel still has a stranglehold on the country despite a series of high-profile arrests and official resignations. “We’re continuing to protest because we don’t trust the system,” Riad Mostefai, a young apprentice hairdresser, told Reuters from central Algiers. “It might regenerate.”

In mid-October, the “pouvoir,” the commonly used term for the unofficial networks of power seen as controlling the country, added to protesters' list of concerns when the Council of Ministers approved government proposals intended to overhaul Sonatrach, the leaden state-run oil and gas company. Now the controversial measures must pass in a yet-to-be-scheduled vote in parliament, and in addition, it has to pass the test of Hirak, the popular protest movement channeling Algerians' discontent, which sees the move as an attempt by the caretaker government to entrench itself.

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