Archive for the ‘AFP’ Category

Algerians mix protest with football as cup final looms


Algiers (AFP) – Protesters took to the streets of Algiers Friday for a rally boosted by anticipation as their team prepares to battle Senegal in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Demonstrators, many of them wearing the national football team’s kit, poured onto the streets following weekly midday prayers, despite a heavy security presence.

The protests have been held every week since flaring in February over veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in office.

Bouteflika’s departure on April 2 failed to stem the protest movement, which has continued to demand the departure of key regime figures and an overhaul of the North African country’s political system.

Retired protester Amar, 71, held up a sign reading “today we will party twice. We’ll win the cup and topple the gang!” — referring to Bouteflika-era officials still in office.

“This morning we have a match against the ‘gang’ and in the evening against Senegal,” he said. “God willing, we’ll win both matches.”

An uninterrupted row of police vehicles lined a major avenue in Algiers, severely reducing the space for protest marches, but AFP journalists at the site did not witness any arrests, unlike at previous marches.

As kickoff loomed in Cairo for Algeria’s bid to lift the African Cup for the first time in 29 years, free public buses waited to ferry fans to the capital’s July 5 Stadium, where the final is to be shown on a big screen. 

Algerian authorities have also organised an “air bridge” to deliver some 4,500 supporters to the Egyptian capital for the match.

But the move sparked cynicism among protesters.

“The national team gives us a lot of joy and pride, but we can’t forget the most important thing: the departure of all (senior Bouteflika-era) officials,” said Amina, a civil servant.

“Many are already in prison, and so they should be — they stole the money of the people.”

A series of prominent politicians and businessmen linked to Bouteflika have been detained or questioned over alleged graft since the ailing president stepped down.

Former cabinet minister Amar Ghoul was placed in preventive detention on Monday, state media reported.

The official APS news agency said he was being investigated over cases involving powerful businessmen Ali Haddad, CEO of Algeria’s top construction company, and Mahieddine Tahkout, whose group leads much of the university and urban transport sector.

Facing accusations of benefitting from their connections to Bouteflika to win large public contracts, Haddad and Tahkout have already been imprisoned. 

Algerians mix protest with football as cup final looms


Algiers (AFP) – Protesters took to the streets of Algiers Friday for a rally boosted by anticipation as their team prepares to battle Senegal in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Demonstrators, many of them wearing the national football team’s kit, poured onto the streets following weekly midday prayers, despite a heavy security presence.

The protests have been held every week since flaring in February over veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in office.

Bouteflika’s departure on April 2 failed to stem the protest movement, which has continued to demand the departure of key regime figures and an overhaul of the North African country’s political system.

Retired protester Amar, 71, held up a sign reading “today we will party twice. We’ll win the cup and topple the gang!” — referring to Bouteflika-era officials still in office.

“This morning we have a match against the ‘gang’ and in the evening against Senegal,” he said. “God willing, we’ll win both matches.”

An uninterrupted row of police vehicles lined a major avenue in Algiers, severely reducing the space for protest marches, but AFP journalists at the site did not witness any arrests, unlike at previous marches.

As kickoff loomed in Cairo for Algeria’s bid to lift the African Cup for the first time in 29 years, free public buses waited to ferry fans to the capital’s July 5 Stadium, where the final is to be shown on a big screen. 

Algerian authorities have also organised an “air bridge” to deliver some 4,500 supporters to the Egyptian capital for the match.

But the move sparked cynicism among protesters.

“The national team gives us a lot of joy and pride, but we can’t forget the most important thing: the departure of all (senior Bouteflika-era) officials,” said Amina, a civil servant.

“Many are already in prison, and so they should be — they stole the money of the people.”

A series of prominent politicians and businessmen linked to Bouteflika have been detained or questioned over alleged graft since the ailing president stepped down.

Former cabinet minister Amar Ghoul was placed in preventive detention on Monday, state media reported.

The official APS news agency said he was being investigated over cases involving powerful businessmen Ali Haddad, CEO of Algeria’s top construction company, and Mahieddine Tahkout, whose group leads much of the university and urban transport sector.

Facing accusations of benefitting from their connections to Bouteflika to win large public contracts, Haddad and Tahkout have already been imprisoned. 

New Derby boss Cocu happy to work outside Premier League


London (AFP) – New Derby boss Phillip Cocu says he has no reservations about taking a job outside of the Premier League as he seeks to build on the work done by the departed Frank Lampard.

The 48-year-old played at the highest level with Barcelona and the Netherlands, winning more than 100 caps, and won the Eredivisie title with PSV Eindhoven three times as a manager.

Cocu said last season’s Championship play-off finalists Derby were the “right fit” for him.

“I realise and know in the world of football that you have to bring a level of performance — it doesn’t matter if it’s the Premier League or Eredivisie (Dutch top division),” he said.

“Over the last few years the club has tried to build something and I want to continue this process, this philosophy. I have the feeling it’s a good fit and a good moment to step in.”

The former Fenerbahce boss said: “To develop players is very important to bring the philosophy we have — to try to make a plan for each individual player to make it possible to make it to the first team. The first team as well need to be competitive.”

Derby challenged for promotion last season, falling at the final hurdle in the play-off final at Wembley and Cocu said the club were also aiming high this season.

“We will try to get in the top six in the league but the most important thing is the football we play and the development of individual players,” he said.

Derby received a big compensation fee for Lampard when his former club Chelsea appointed him as their manager earlier this month, reportedly around £4 million ($5 million).

But owner Mel Morris said the club would not abandon its principles of trying to produce its own first-team players and a “big spend” was not anticipated before the transfer window closes.

Algerian football fans spark national identity debate in France


Paris (AFP) – Thousands of extra French police are set to be on duty later Friday in Paris and other major cities for the final of the Africa Cup of nations following violence that has touched off a debate about national identity.

Algeria play Senegal in the final of the African Cup of Nations on Friday evening with excitement high in France which is home to a huge Algerian-origin population due to the country’s colonial history.

Thousands of people partied in the streets when Algeria won its quarter-final on July 11 and then again for the semi-final on July 14, but the celebrations were later marred by pillaging and street clashes.

“I call on people celebrating, even if I understand their joy, to behave themselves,” Paris police chief Didier Lallement told a press conference on Wednesday.

Around 2,500 police officers will be mobilised around the Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe where crowds set off fireworks and flew flags from car windows last Sunday, which was also France’s national Bastille Day.

Clashes with police in the early hours, following pillaging the week before, saw more than 200 people arrested, leading to condemnation from the government, as well as far-right politicians.

The fact that the semi-final coincided with Bastille Day, which celebrates the French republic and its armed forces, irked nationalist politicians in particular who worry about the effects of immigration. 

“Like lots of French people, I was shocked to see French people take down the French flag and put up the Algerian one,” far-right politician Nicolas Dupont-Aignan said on Friday morning.

Dupont-Aignan said the French-born Algeria fans, many of whom have dual nationality, could “go back” to north Africa if their preference was for the country of their parents or grandparents.

“I want to ask these young people, who are a minority I hope: France has welcomed you, fed you, educated you, looked after you, but if you prefer Algeria, if it’s better than France, go back to Algeria!”

SOS Racism, a charity, condemned his comments as unacceptable and designed to “create a chasm between people.”

Violence has flared in France in the past after major football games involving Algeria including during World Cup games in 2014, which led far-right leader Marine Le Pen to propose stripping rioters of their French nationality.

“Their victories are our nightmare,” a spokesperson for Le Pen’s National Rally party, Sebastien Chenu, said Monday. “Whenever there’s a match with Algeria… there are problems.”

Algerian football fans spark national identity debate in France


Paris (AFP) – Thousands of extra French police are set to be on duty later Friday in Paris and other major cities for the final of the Africa Cup of nations following violence that has touched off a debate about national identity.

Algeria play Senegal in the final of the African Cup of Nations on Friday evening with excitement high in France which is home to a huge Algerian-origin population due to the country’s colonial history.

Thousands of people partied in the streets when Algeria won its quarter-final on July 11 and then again for the semi-final on July 14, but the celebrations were later marred by pillaging and street clashes.

“I call on people celebrating, even if I understand their joy, to behave themselves,” Paris police chief Didier Lallement told a press conference on Wednesday.

Around 2,500 police officers will be mobilised around the Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe where crowds set off fireworks and flew flags from car windows last Sunday, which was also France’s national Bastille Day.

Clashes with police in the early hours, following pillaging the week before, saw more than 200 people arrested, leading to condemnation from the government, as well as far-right politicians.

The fact that the semi-final coincided with Bastille Day, which celebrates the French republic and its armed forces, irked nationalist politicians in particular who worry about the effects of immigration. 

“Like lots of French people, I was shocked to see French people take down the French flag and put up the Algerian one,” far-right politician Nicolas Dupont-Aignan said on Friday morning.

Dupont-Aignan said the French-born Algeria fans, many of whom have dual nationality, could “go back” to north Africa if their preference was for the country of their parents or grandparents.

“I want to ask these young people, who are a minority I hope: France has welcomed you, fed you, educated you, looked after you, but if you prefer Algeria, if it’s better than France, go back to Algeria!”

SOS Racism, a charity, condemned his comments as unacceptable and designed to “create a chasm between people.”

Violence has flared in France in the past after major football games involving Algeria including during World Cup games in 2014, which led far-right leader Marine Le Pen to propose stripping rioters of their French nationality.

“Their victories are our nightmare,” a spokesperson for Le Pen’s National Rally party, Sebastien Chenu, said Monday. “Whenever there’s a match with Algeria… there are problems.”