Hundreds of pro-democracy activists reportedly joined demonstrations in central Algiers on Monday, October 5, marking the anniversary of the pivotal October 1988 protests in the capital. Around 500 demonstrators affiliated with the Hirak movement are reported to have gathered at the Errahma mosque and marched down Didouche Mourad Street despite attempts by police to prevent activists from reaching the popular protest location, citing restrictions on public gatherings due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the demonstration was later dispersed by security forces, with around 20 protesters being arrested.
Smaller protests were also reported in several other towns and cities in the country on Monday, including Oran, Bejaia, Ouargla, Biskra, Tlemcen, and Annaba. However, the gatherings are believed to have passed peacefully.
Monday's protests come as campaigning begins for Algeria's November 1 constitutional referendum, which President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has stated will usher in democratic reforms and improve parliamentary oversight in the country in response to the 2019 pro-democracy protests. Despite restrictions on public gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, further pro-democracy and anti-government demonstrations are likely in Algiers and other areas of the country in the medium term. Groups linked to the Hirak movement have reportedly called for demonstrations on Friday, October 9, but locations and timings are yet to be confirmed.
Those in Algeria are advised to monitor developments, avoid demonstrations and political gatherings, and heed any directives issued by local authorities. Travelers should be aware of the potential for increased political tensions in the country during the constitutional referendum campaign and are advised to avoid discussing politically sensitive topics in public or on social media.
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