Algerian anti-government protesters have called off their weekly demonstrations for the first time in over a year to try and stop the spread of coronavirus.

Authorities banned street marches earlier this week, but opposition activists including imprisoned activist Karim Tabbou also urged protesters to stay inside.

There have been 10 deaths and over 90 confirmed virus cases in the north African country, with most in the town of Blida, south of Algiers.

The movement, known as Hirak, took to the streets in February 2019 after the country’s president Abdelaziz Bouteflika sought after another term as president after 20 years in the job.

The streets of Algiers are clear for the first Friday in over a year, with fears of spreading COVID-19 calling off the weekly rally. | Photo: SouheylaGheb, Twitter.

Demonstrations continued after the president, who protesters saw as corrupt, was forced to resign in April of the same year. Activists now insist the entire ruling elite who have run Algeria since its independence from France in 1962 step down.

Large groups continued to crowd Algerian cities after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation, but increasing cases of the virus has led to the movement’s leaders condoning mass marches. This would have been the 57th week of demonstrations.

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