Algeria lawmakers padlock parliament in protest against speaker

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Algerian deputies from the National Liberation Front (FLN) and National Democratic Rally (RND) block the entrance of the National People’s Congress in Algiers on October 16, 2018, during a protest following repeated calls for the resignation of the congress’s chief. (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

Around 200 deputies kept Algeria’s parliament locked up for several hours Tuesday in a protest action to press demands for the house speaker to step down.

“We’re here to demand the speaker resigns,” Abdelhamid Si Affif, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told AFP after the protesters blocked the entrance with a chain and padlock.

Said Bouhadja, president of Algeria’s lower house, has since late September resisted calls to resign over charges of “mismanagement, exaggerated and illicit expenses and dubious recruitment”.

“This doesn’t scare me. I will go to the People’s National Assembly (parliament) because I am the president of this institution,” Bouhadja told the TSA news website.

He did not, however, make an appearance at Tuesday’s protest, which lasted until around midday before the deputies dispersed.

Algeria’s constitution and laws do not lay down a procedure for the dismissal of a parliament speaker if he refuses to step aside.