Algerian President Bouteflika Sacks State Television Head

Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has sacked Toufik Khelladi, the head of the state television. This comes at a time when thousands of protesters are demanding he steps down as head of state.

Although there has not been an official confirmation, private Ennahar TV channel reported that Lotfi Chriet replaced Toufik Khelladi as the new head of Algeria’s national television.

Khelladi’s sack comes after journalists working at state media staged a protest in front of the state TV building to demand the freedom to cover protests against Bouteflika, which are now in its fifth week.

After spending two decades in office, the 82-year-old president was seeking a fifth term. However, the persistent street protests and the support of over 1,000 Judges who said they would refuse to oversee the planned election if Bouteflika runs led to his withdrawal from the presidential race.

Since 2014, press freedom has been under attack in the Northern African country. According to reporters without borders, there have been attempts to cripple the finance of the media so that it can, in turn, restrict their activities. Also, prevalent economic and judicial harassment, have ensured that journalists and media outlets find it hard to operate freely.

In 2015, many journalists were charged or penalized in connection with criticism of public officials. The criticisms that were done on social media, especially Facebook posts.

By 2016, the staff at the satirical television program Weekend received a directive to overhaul the program’s format after airing a segment that referred to Algerian officials’ property assets in France; the staff decided to end the program rather than enact the changes.

Since then, Algeria’s Ministry of Communication has continued to block the distribution of foreign media when it deemed their content objectionable. As of 2018, Algeria ranked 136th in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index.