Algeria protests: Tycoon Ali Haddad ‘arrested at Tunisia border’

Ali HaddadImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Haddad controls a vast business empire

A top Algerian businessman has been arrested while trying to cross into neighbouring Tunisia, local media say.

Ali Haddad is one of the country’s richest men and a long-time backer of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is under intense pressure to quit.

Demonstrators have been demanding that Mr Bouteflika and those close to him step aside.

On Tuesday Algeria’s powerful army chief, Gen Ahmed Gaed Salah, urged the ailing leader to stand down.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Bouteflika suffered a stroke in 2013

Algerian media say Mr Haddad, 54, was carrying a British passport and large sums of money when he was arrested trying to cross the Tunisian border by car in the early hours of Sunday.

The reason for the reported arrest is not clear. Mr Haddad recently resigned as head of Algeria’s employers’ organisation, FCE.

He went from managing his family’s small hotel to commanding a vast business empire with interests in construction, sports, media and healthcare, among others.

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Analysts say he was much part of Mr Bouteflika’s inner circle.

Under his tenure, the FCE backed the president’s bid for a fifth term – a position it later retracted as his popularity waned.

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Media captionPolice used water cannon during the protest in Algiers

Algeria has been rocked by weeks of anti-government protests since Mr Bouteflika announced his intention to stand in election due next month.

The 82-year-old leader – who came to power in 1999 – has since dropped his plans but still remains in office.

He has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.

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