ALGIERS (Rahnuma) : A business tycoon with close ties to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been arrested, according to local media on Sunday.
Ali Haddad was arrested at dawn before leaving the country via a border crossing with Tunisia, Al-Khabar newspaper said, citing a source with the Border Police Department.
Haddad, who resigned two days ago as a head of the Business Leaders Forum (FCE), the largest business organization in Algeria, has been one of the main funders of Bouteflika’s electoral campaigns.
The French-language El Watan newspaper said Haddad was trying to flee Algeria into neighboring Tunisia.
The Algerian authorities have yet to issue any official comment on the arrest.
The local Al-Nahar television said Algerian authorities had issued a decree banning high-ranking figures and businessmen from leaving the country.
Algeria has been rocked by mass protests in recent weeks demanding Bouteflika, 82, step down from power.
In February, Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front nominated Bouteflika, who has ruled Algeria since 1999, to run for a fifth presidential term.
But on March 11, after weeks of demonstrations against his planned bid for a fifth term, Bouteflika abruptly postponed polls originally slated for April 18.
Since then, however, Algerians across the country — including capital Algiers — have continued to demonstrate against Bouteflika, who they accuse of unconstitutionally extending his fourth term in office.