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Algeria pardons thousands of prisoners

World

ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Tuesday pardoned more than 3,000 prisoners serving sentences less than six months as he seeks to win support after months of political turmoil.

Tebboune, elected in December in a vote opposed by a huge protest movement seeking the replacement of the entire ruling elite, has said his top priority is to restore confidence.

Thousands of people are still protesting every Friday, but the numbers appear to have waned since Tebboune’s election and his offer of talks with the opposition.

Last month he also ordered the release of dozens of people who had been detained for taking part in the protests.

He has also promised a process to offer constitutional amendments to the public through a referendum in order to give parliament a bigger role and increase political freedoms.

A court in Algiers on Monday acquitted Samir Benlarbi, an activist and a leading member of the protest movement who had been detained for over four months for “harming the national unity”.

Several other activists are still in detention pending trail in Algiers and other towns, but it was unclear whether the 3,471 people pardoned on Tuesday include those detained for involvement in the recent political unrest.

Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed, editing by Angus McDowall and Philippa Fletcher