Algerian students back on streets calling for new 'system'

Students chanting "out with the government" gather outside iconic post office in Algiers as they have every week since Bouteflika stepped down.

ALGIERS - Thousands of Algerian students marched Tuesday through the capital calling for the overthrow of the "system" and trials for members of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's inner circle.

The rallies came as state media reported that Algeria's richest man has been detained in jail after his arrest as part of a corruption probe and Sunday's arrest of four other business tycoons. Some have close links to Bouteflika's entourage.

Students chanting "out with the government" gathered outside the iconic post office in the heart of Algiers as they have every week since the Bouteflika stepped down on April 2 in the face of mass protests against his 20-year rule.

The police dialled down the security presence at the site after deploying en masse last Tuesday to prevent protesters from reaching what has become the emblematic point of rallies since anti-government demonstrations first erupted in February.

"Either it's us, or it's you. Out with the government!" chanted students, many of them drapped in Algeria's national flag.

Architecture and civil engineering students wearing white and yellow construction helmets held banners aloft reading "Let's build a new Algeria".

Algerians are demanding a complete overhaul of the political system in the North African country, including the ouster of an interim government set up in the wake of Bouteflika's fall.

They are demanding that regime stalwarts be excluded from any political transition in the country, where presidential elections are due to take place on July 4 according to acting president Abdelkader Bensalah.

"We demand the departure of the entire gang that inherited Bouteflika's reign, headed by Bensalah and (Prime Minster) Noureddine Bedoui," said Hamza, a third-year civil engineering student at the University of Blida south of the capital.

"We want a new system that is committed to fighting the corruption that has plagued the country," said Hamid, a finance student in Algiers.

Issad Rebrab, Algeria's richest man and chief executive of the country's biggest privately-owned conglomerate Cevital, was placed in detention overnight, the APS news agency said.

Late Sunday four brothers from the powerful Kouninef family with links to Said Bouteflika, the younger brother and former advisor of the president, were arrested, state television reported.

The Kouninef family is hugely influential and the four brothers -- Abdelkader, Reda, Karim and Tarek -- have dealings in everything from agribusiness to civil engineering.

Business tycoon Rebrab, however, said last month he backed the protest movement but he has had tense relations with the Algerian authorities, which he accuses of blocking his investments in the country.