Algerians protest, celebrate independence day amid tensions

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algerians are taking to the streets to demand new democratic leadership and celebrate their country’s hard-fought independence from colonial France.

Resurgent anger at authorities is expected to bring larger-than-usual crowds to Friday’s protest, the 20th straight week of demonstrations in a revolt that helped drive out longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April.

Protesters are now upset about arrests last week of several activists brandishing Berber emblems and of a veteran of Algeria’s independence war.

Authorities accused the activists of threatening Algeria’s unity by celebrating Berber identity. The 82-year-old veteran is accused of damaging the army’s morale by criticizing the powerful military chief.

Protesters hope Friday’s demonstration breathes new life into the movement, divided over how to achieve lasting change. The protest coincides with the national holiday marking Algeria’s 1962 independence.

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