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Abed el madjid tebboune president of the republic, during a national conference on the Recovery Plan for a new economy, at the international conference center, in Algiers, Algeria, on August 18, 2020.

Algerian President Concedes To Calls For Referendum On New Constitution

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has announced an upcoming referendum to amend Algeria's constitution following ongoing protests and mass arrests.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has set a date for Algerian referendum on a new Constitution. After meeting with the head of the election authority, Mohamed Chorfi, this past Monday, Tebboune has publicly announced that the first referendum meeting will be officially held on November 1st 2020.

READ: Prominent Algerian Activist Amira Bouraoui Sentenced to Year in Prison

Tebboune, who has been president for eight months, stated that the referendum aims to implement economic and political reforms that will reduce presidential authority and balance power distribution across organs of government. Tebboune's response is in light of Hirak protests calling for a new democratic dispensation to end the insurgence of military rule since Algeria gained independence from France in 1962.

Two weeks ago, editor of international French news channel, Khaled Drareni was arrested for persistently reporting on mass anti-government protests. The Algerian government initiated a ban on all protests earlier in March of this year, following the coronavirus global outbreak. Drareni was subsequently fined 400 USD dollars and sentenced to three years in imprison.

READ: Algeria Calls Off Anti-Government Protests Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Mass protest demonstrations began in February last year after then President Abdelaziz Bouteflika indicated that he would be running for a fifth consecutive term after 20 years in power. President Tebboune has expressed militant intolerance of both political protests and Algerian journalists who report on protest demonstrations. Algeria has had several referendums under Bouteflika's rule and civil organisations have rejected Tebboune's referendum announcement and have called for deeper reforms that go beyond dialogue.

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Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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