Algeria Detains Former Bouteflika Minister in Graft Probe


Algerian authorities on Thursday placed in preventive detention a former cabinet minister under ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the latest in a crackdown on corruption, the official APS news agency said.

Amar Ghoul, 58, is the most recent in a series of prominent politicians and businessmen linked to Bouteflika to have been detained or questioned over alleged graft since the ailing president stepped down in the face of mass protests in early April.

The demonstrations that have rocked Algeria since February were initially against Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term.

But the protests continued even after his fall, with demonstrators demanding a complete political overhaul and the departure of Bouteflika-era figures before new presidential elections are held.

Ghoul held a series of ministerial posts from 1999 to 2016, most of Bouteflika's 20 years in power. 

Initially a member of the main Islamist party in Algeria, the Movement of Society for Peace, Ghoul went on to found his own Islamist party, the Rally for Hope in Algeria, joining the pro-Bouteflika alliance.

According to APS, Ghoul is being investigated in cases involving powerful businessmen Ali Haddad, CEO of Algeria's top construction company, and Mahieddine Tahkout, who's group leads much of the university and urban transport sector.    

Facing accusations of benefiting from their connections to Bouteflika to win large public contracts, Haddad and Tahkout have already been imprisoned. 

With the detention of Ghoul, the leaders and former leaders of the four pro-Bouteflika parties are now all in provisional detention on allegations of corruption during their time in government.  

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