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Algeria pro-democracy marchers try to revive Friday protests

Protesters took to the streets of Algiers and other cities around Algeria Friday in a bid to restart weekly pro-democracy demonstrations.

It was the first Friday since the Hirak movement was forced to suspend a year of peaceful weekly protests due to COVID-19, and came four days after the movement flooded streets for Monday’s second anniversary of the movement.

Hirak protesters helped force long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power in 2019. They are not satisfied with reforms to the governing system proposed by the current president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

People demonstrate for a second time this week in Algiers, Algeria, Feb. 26, 2021. Algerians turned out on Friday in the streets of the capital and scattered cities around their North African country to demonstrate in the pro-democracy movement, four days after tens of thousands of marchers marked Hirak's second anniversary. (AP PhotoAnis Belghoul)

Activists are pressing for a full makeover of the opaque system governing Algeria, with the military in the shadows. The powerful army has been at the helm since Algeria won its independence war against France in 1962.

Friday was a test to see if the Hirak movement can resume its weekly marches despite the pandemic.

Security forces stood at the ready as protesters moved into the center of Algiers and numerous other towns around the North African country after Friday prayers. The National Committee for the Liberation of the Detained reported scattered arrests in several cities, according to the online news site TSA.

People demonstrate with Algerian flags for a second time this week in Algiers, Algeria, Feb. 26, 2021. Algerians turned out on Friday in the streets of the capital and scattered cities around their North African country to demonstrate in the pro-democracy movement, four days after tens of thousands of marchers marked Hirak's second anniversary. (AP PhotoAnis Belghoul)

In a conciliatory gesture, Tebboune pardoned more than 30 jailed protesters last week, but dozens more remain behind bars.

People demonstrate with an Algerian flag for a second time this week in Algiers, Algeria, Feb. 26, 2021. Algerians turned out on Friday in the streets of the capital and scattered cities around their North African country to demonstrate in the pro-democracy movement, four days after tens of thousands of marchers marked Hirak's second anniversary. (AP PhotoAnis Belghoul)

People demonstrate with Algerian flags for a second time this week in Algiers, Algeria, Feb. 26, 2021. Algerians turned out on Friday in the streets of the capital and scattered cities around their North African country to demonstrate in the pro-democracy movement, four days after tens of thousands of marchers marked Hirak's second anniversary. (AP PhotoAnis Belghoul)