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Algeria says to investigate actions targeting stability

Credit: REUTERS/RAMZI BOUDINA

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Sunday ordered an investigation of what the government called planned actions to destabilise the country after a lack of bank liquidity, huge forest fires and power and water supplies cuts.

By Hamid Ould Ahmed

ALGIERS, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Sunday ordered an investigation of what the government called planned actions to destabilise the country after a lack of bank liquidity, huge forest fires and power and water supplies cuts.

Elected in December, Tebboune has been trying to bring stability after mass protests last year toppled his predecessor, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and prompted authorities to jail several officials on corruption charges.

The government is also keen to contain social unrest amid financial pressure caused by a sharp fall in energy earnings, the main source of state finances in the OPEC member North African nation.

Citizens in the capital, Algiers, and other cities suffered from power and drinking water cuts over the past days, mainly during the Muslim Eid al-Adhha holiday which was celebrated on Friday and Saturday.

Some banks and post offices saw long queues by people seeking to get their money to cover higher spending during Eid, causing health problems despite instructions to practise social distancing to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

At the same time, huge forest fires ravaged hundreds of hectares throughout the country, with elevated summer temperatures.

"It is strange that three operations (liquidity, power and water cuts and fire) take place in the same month," Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad told reporters after a meeting to discuss importation of coronavirus vaccines.

The water shortage was caused by sabotage at a desalination plant that supplies Algiers and neighbouring provinces, he said.

Djerad also said the fires were deliberate and several people were caught setting them, while some electricity poles were vandalised.

"There are organised actions aimed at creating discord and instability in the country," he said.

The authorities are seeking appeasement after last year's mass marches that demanded political reforms and better living standards, with Tebboune preparing amendments to the constitution to boost freedoms and give parliament a greater role.

The protests were banned earlier this year to limit coronavirus infections.

Tebboune has also vowed to diversify the economy away from oil and gas, create jobs and provide help for the poor.

(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Dan Grebler)

((hamid.ouldahmed@thomsonreuters.com;))

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