Algeria hands tough jail terms to three opposition activists

KONFRONTASI-Courts in Algeria have handed tough jail sentences to three opposition activists whose Facebook posts they deemed potentially damaging to the national interest, according to human rights groups.

Soheib Debaghi received a one-year sentence on Wednesday on charges of encouraging an illegal gathering, insulting an official body and publishing potentially damaging material, the National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD) said on its Facebook page.

Algerian army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah dies

KONFRONTASI-Algeria's powerful army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah has died, state television reported.

Algerian government radio said he died on Monday morning in an Algiers military hospital after a heart attack.

Gaid Salah, 79, was seen as Algeria's de facto strongman since a pro-democracy movement with his backing pushed out the country's longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April.

He played a key role pushing through the December 12 presidential elections in the face of stiff opposition on the streets.

Five candidates to run in Algeria's presidential election next month

KONFRONTASI-Five candidates will run in Algeria’s presidential election next month, including two former prime ministers, the head of the election authority said on Saturday, amid mass protests rejecting the vote.

The authorities have repeatedly said the Dec. 12 vote would be the only way to get out of a crisis Algeria been facing since the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April under pressure from protesters.

Powerful Algerian party abandons beleaguered Bouteflika

KONFRONTASI-An influential Algerian party that was a long-time supporter of Abdelaziz Bouteflika has criticized the ailing president for seeking to stay in power, another setback for the ruling elite in the face of mass demonstrations.

The National Rally for Democracy (RND), a member of the ruling coalition, has joined ruling party officials, unions and business tycoons who have abandoned Bouteflika in recent days, after nearly a month of street demonstrations protests.

183 injured in Algeria protests

KONFRONTASI-A total of 183 people were injured during protests across Algeria on Friday against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for election to a fifth term, the state news agency APS said on Saturday, citing the health ministry.

One person died of a heart attack, officials said earlier.

Tens of thousands of protesters called on the ailing, 82-year-old Bouteflika to abandon plans to seek re-election in an April presidential vote — Algeria’s biggest anti-government rallies since the Arab Spring eight years ago.

Algeria military court to try intelligence official

KONFRONTASI-Algeria's former head of counterterrorism will appear in a military court in the country's first trial of a high-ranking officer in the secret services, according to his lawyer.

Abdelkader Ait-Ouarabi - better known as General Hassan - is accused of "destroying documents and disobeying military instructions", Mokrane Ait-Larbi, the lawyer, told AFP news agency on Monday.

The military court in the city of Oran could not be reached for comment or confirmation.

General Hassan had for two decades embodied the army's fight against armed groups in the country.

Algeria calls on OPEC to cut oil production

KONFRONTASI-The Algerian energy minister has urged Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to slash oil production amid a sharp fall in crude prices in recent months.

"For us, OPEC has to intervene to correct the imbalance and cut production to bring up prices and defend the income of its member states," Youcef Yousfi said on Sunday.

Algeria, an OPEC member state, is heavily dependent on the oil revenue, which provides 97 percent of its hard-currency income and 60 percent of the country’s budget.

Algerian military plane crash kills 2

KONFRONTASI-Algeria's Defense Ministry says a bomber has crashed during a training exercise in the center of the country, killing the two service members aboard.

The SU-24 bomber crashed Monday afternoon according to the ministry, killing the pilot and the navigator, near the Hassi Bahbah airbase, 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Algiers.

Algeria has suffered a number of plane crashes this year, most recently when an Air Algerie plane flying from Burkina Faso crashed during bad weather in northern Mali in July, killing 116 people.