Some 230 firefighters have been suspended by Algeria’s Ministry of Interior after they took part in protests calling for better pay and conditions.
The ministry accused the Civil Defence workers of “betraying their duties and responsibilities” on Monday, 3 May.
The firefighters had marched peacefully and in uniform alongside other civil service workers near the headquarters of the Algerian presidency in Algiers, but were attacked with tear gas by police.
Protests have erupted across Algeria in recent weeks, against a background of food shortages, rising prices and an unemployment rate of 15 per cent. The country is currently in the grip of an economic crisis brought on partly by a drop in oil revenue.
A popular pro-democracy movement known as Hirak, which launched two years ago, has rattled the government. In an attempt to appease the anger of the street mobilisations, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune ordered his government to open “a dialogue” with the wider movement.
The Hirak movement began in 2019 in response to former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika announcing his desire to run for a fifth term. He stepped down several weeks later, but Hirak continued its mobilisations, calling for major changes to the country’s governance.
Algeria is set to go to the polls in June, in an early election that has riled opponents of the government, many of whom are due to boycott the vote. The Algerian election authorities have said that 1,730 lists, including 818 party lists and 912 “independent lists”, have so far registered. Only 19 parties out of the 39 who have applied are said to “meet the legal requirements”, according to the authority.