November 4, 2019 / 7:09 PM / 17 days ago

Algerian court detains former minister over corruption allegations

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria’s supreme court on Monday placed in custody a former culture minister over corruption allegations under former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, state television reported.

Khalid Toumi became the 12th ex-minister to be detained since Bouteflika resigned in April under pressure from protesters demanding the removal of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people suspected of involvement in corruption.

Toumi, who served as culture minister for 12 years, is accused of squandering public funds and awarding illegal privileges, state TV said.

Her lawyer was not available for comment.

Two former prime ministers have also been in detention over alleged corruption since the protests erupted on Feb. 22.

Protesters now demand the cancellation of a Dec.12 presidential election, believing it will not be fair as some of Bouteflika’s allies including interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedui are still in power.

The army is now the main player in Algeria’s politics and its chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah has repeatedly vowed fairness and transparency for the vote.

The election authority on Saturday said five candidates, including two former prime ministers, would run in the election.

Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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