Algeria protesters demand independent judiciary

An Algerian man take part in a protest in the capital Algiers demanding an independent judiciary

Thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of cities across Algeria Friday, demanding an independent judiciary as dozens of regime opponents endure incarceration.

In the centre of the capital Algiers, national flags were held aloft by protesters, signifying the Hirak protest movement's opposition to a regime and leaders that they regard as illegitimate.

One banner read: "I have a dream -- democracy, the rule of law, freedom."

Pictures of detained prisoners of conscience featured alongside messages on numerous placards brought to the rally by protesters.

Around 30 people belonging or linked to the protest movement are currently behind bars, according to the CNLD prisoners' rights group.

"We want an independent judiciary. The injustice must stop!" said Mohammed, a 59 year-old retiree.

Another banner read "We are all Judge Merzoug", referring to a magistrate who was suspended from his duties, amid criticism from Algeria's justice ministry over his purported sympathy with the Hirak.

He is one of two judges who face legal action over links to the protest movement.

Protests also took place in several other cities, including Annaba in the east and Oran in the west, according to images circulating on social media.

The Hirak first mobilised in February 2019 and two months later forced then president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to abandon a bid for a fifth term and then resign.

The movement sees the regime as little changed since his departure from office, and demands a new political system that reflects the will of the people.

A presidential election in late 2019 resulted in victory for President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, once a prime minister under Bouteflika, in a poll where even official figures put turnout at only around 40 percent, amid a substantial boycott organised by the Hirak.