NewsPolitics and Elections

Algerian judges end strike following reshuffle

The judges began an indefinite strike on 27 October to demand for the independence of the judiciary after a massive reshuffle.

Striking Algerian judges returned to work on Wednesday, one day after their main union announced the end of a 10-day mass strike following alleged interference by the judiciary in the judicial system.

The hearings resumed before the court of Sidi M’hamed, the main court in Algiers, said an AFP journalist. In the second city of Oran, about 350 km west of the capital, lawyer Wafa Boukadoum said that the judges have also resumed work.

At the time, the National Union of Judges (SNM) described the transfers from the Ministry of Justice as “control over the executive of the judiciary”. But the SNM said that an agreement was reached with the ministry on Tuesday to allow judges to challenge their transfers by appealing to the Supreme Judicial Council. The agreement also involved the establishment of a workshop to “enrich” legislation on the independence of the judiciary. But in Sidi M’hamed, lawyers said they were disappointed by the decision to end the strike. One of them alleged that the judges were convinced by the promise of “huge salary increases”.

“They sacrificed the independence” of the judiciary, the lawyer added anonymously. “It’s a disgrace.” Judges play a major role in supervising elections in this North African country, which has been shaken by anti-government demonstrations since February.

Angry at unemployment, corruption and an elderly elite perceived as disconnected from youth, Algerians began to take to the streets on 22 February to protest, first against Bouteflika’s plan, still in place, to keep his post and then for the withdrawal of all secret political and military establishments that have dominated the country for decades.

The demonstrators have repeatedly called for the withdrawal of leading elite figures and the establishment of credible institutions before the election is held.

The army, led by the powerful Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaid Salah, is considered to be the main actor in Algerian politics. Gaid Salah also promised transparency and fairness for the December 12 vote.

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