İrem UZUN -TDO- An Algerian court jailed two former prime ministers for corruption on Tuesday, two days before a presidential election that protesters want to be canceled.
The prison sentences handed down against former Prime Ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdel Malek Sellal were harsh, given that no former Algerian prime minister has ever been put on trial before. Ouyahia received a 15-year sentence; while Sellal received 12 from Algeria's Sidi Ahmed Court.Both were close allies of former President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika. Several other top former government ministers were also given heavy sentences in the highprofile case. Many former senior officials have been in detention as the army seeks to quell mass protests that began in February demanding the prosecution of people involved in corruption and the removal of the ruling elite.
President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika resigned in April under pressure from the protests which began in February. Demonstrators say Thursday's election will not be fair because some of Bouteflika's allies are still in power.Large popular protests against the elections took place Monday in the coastal city of Oran, as well as the capital Algiers. Many Algerians believe that the five candidates running for president, two of whom are former prime ministers, do not represent a serious break with the Bouteflika-era or the country's post-independence regime.Many Algerians, especially the military, worry that there could be a repeat of the chaos and violence of the 1990s, following an aborted presidential election won by Islamist Abbassi Madani.