Algerian Senator Arrested in anti-Graft Sweep

AP, AFP

ALGIERS: An Algerian senator close to ex-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been jailed on accusations of corruption.
State television announced that a Supreme Court judge ordered Djamel Ould Abbas incarcerated in Algiers on Sunday after several hours of questioning for alleged wrongdoing when he was government minister during Bouteflika’s first term, 1999-2004.
Accusations include falsifying official documents and abusing his office for personal enrichment, according to the state television report.
Abbas, vice president of Algeria’s Senate, has not publicly commented on the accusations. He relinquished his parliamentary immunity amid growing political pressure over the case.
He is the latest of several high-profile figures arrested in an anti-corruption sweep since Bouteflika was pushed out of office in April by mass protests backed by Algeria’s army chief.

Call for poll

Meanwhile, Algerian opposition parties and civil society figures called a day earlier for elections to take place in six months, after the interim president pushed for dialogue. The group proposed “free and pluralistic” elections “in a period of six months,” in a statement issued at a meeting of political parties and civil society representatives.
The “National Forum for Dialogue” meeting on Saturday was chaired by former minister Abdelaziz Rahabi, who has backed mass protests against the ruling elite. A political crisis initially culminated in long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigning in April on the back of huge demonstrations, and major rallies have continued.
FASTFACT
Djamel Ould Abbas was ordered incarceration in Algiers after several hours of questioning for alleged wrongdoing when he was government minister during Bouteflika’s first term, 1999-2004.
Algerian protesters are pushing for an overhaul of the entire political class. Saturday’s meeting pushed for the creation of a body to prepare for the polls, composed of figures chosen by “the parties of dialogue with the exclusion of symbols of the former political regime.”
Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah called on Wednesday for a national dialogue, in which he promised the state and army would remain neutral.

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