Police officers prevent demonstrators from marching during a May Day protest on Labour Day in Algiers, Algeria, May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina
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While tens of thousands of Algerians have been gathering for four months in the capital to demand sweeping political reforms, former fighters who led the last confrontation with the establishment have been warning people not to rock the boat.Some 200,000 people died in Algeria's decadelong civil war, leaving many Algerians fearful of radical change now that longtime President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika has given into the pressure from the streets and stepped down.Salafi influence in Algeria is far wider than their numbers -- an estimated one in 40 people -- would suggest, analysts say.One Salafi preacher has a website with a million followers.Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi is a fierce opponent of Bouteflika, who did not allow him to set up a political party.Yahya, who spoke to Reuters with two of his fellow former fighters Akli and Mohammad sitting alongside, also supports Ibrahimi, as well as army chief Salah.Yahya gave up the fight in 2006 after accepting amnesty from Bouteflika and persuaded others to make peace with the state.
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