Amid the ongoing ire of protesters calling on the ruling elite to leave, Said Bouteflika, the powerful brother of deposed President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was arrested Saturday along with two former intelligence chiefs.
The arrests of three key figures from the Bouteflika era underscored ongoing turmoil in the government as protesters at weekly Friday marches push for the rest of the old guard to go, too.
Said Bouteflika was widely viewed in Algeria as the man at the center of a political system that enriched the oil-rich nation's industrialists while young Algerians suffered rates of high unemployment. He has been accused of usurping presidential powers after his brother's 2013 stroke.
During the 11th straight week of demonstrations, some protesters called on army chief Gen. Gaid Salah to resign. They held up banners accusing him of failing to take on senior figures in the Bouteflika government, including the president's brother.
Hopes among the protesters rose briefly when Salah, responding to weeks of street protests, forced Bouteflika to step down from the presidency. However, anger has mounted over military chief Salah, who was instrumental in Bouteflika's departure but then threw his support behind interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, who is seen as part of the old regime.
Salah has promised to rid the country of corrupt politicians, oligarchs and military officials in order to restore confidence among the people. Several oligarchs, including Algeria's richest man Issad Rebrab, are behind bars with investigations ongoing. Last month, Salah accused a former intelligence chief of trying to undermine the transition, in a clear reference to Mohamed Mediene, dubbed "Algeria's God" because many saw him as the country's real authority.
Algerians took to the streets to rally against Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in polls initially scheduled for April. The demonstrations swelled and spread nationwide, with protesters calling for a broad overhaul of the political system following the president's departure. The arrest of more than half a dozen prominent businessmen seen as close to the presidential "clan" has largely failed to appease protesters, who continue to take to the streets demanding a complete overhaul of the political system.
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