Algeria Warns Unions of Groups ‘Sowing Sedition’ Ahead of Polls

Algeria has told its trade unions to be wary of “subversive” groups seeking to “sow sedition” ahead of elections next month, as authorities look to calm tensions amid a deep economic crisis.

Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad gave the warning Thursday – days after 230 firefighters were suspended after demanding higher wages and better conditions at a weekend rally in the capital Algiers.

The Interior Ministry said the strike was a “plot” encouraged by “parties hostile to Algeria”, a recurring accusation against any dissenting voice in the country.

Influential army magazine El Djeich this week warned against “suspicious strikes” intended to stir up trouble, describing national security as “a red line” ahead of legislative elections slated for 12 June.

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Political deadlock

Algeria’s government is seeking to calm anger stemming from food shortages, soaring prices and 15 percent unemployment.

The country’s economic crisis has been exacerbated by a fall in oil revenues, and a political deadlock that has been in place since an uprising by the anti-government Hirak movement.

Hirak protests began two years ago in response to former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in office.

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While the ailing autocrat was forced to step down, Hirak has carried on its demonstrations, demanding the overhaul of a ruling system that has been in place since Algeria’s independence from France in 1962.

Authorities say the Hirak movement is being infiltrated by those who want to drag it towards violence.

Hirak has called for a boycott of the elections.

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