By Hamid Ould Ahmed
ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algeria’s former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia appeared before the Supreme Court on Wednesday as part of a raft of anti-graft investigations opened into senior figures since President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down, state television reported.
Ouyahia, who left the government in March as part of a cabinet reshuffle, will be investigated over corruption cases including “awarding illegal privileges”, it said, without giving details.
His lawyer could not be reached by phone for comment.
State television gave no details of what would happen next in the judicial process involving Ouyahia, who is the leader of Algeria’s second largest party, the Democratic National Rally (RND).
He is the latest figure to be investigated on corruption allegations since mass protests erupted more than three months ago demanding the departure of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people they see as corrupt.
Bouteflika stepped down on April 2 under pressure from the army and protests that broke out on Feb. 22.
The army is now the most powerful institution and its chief Ahmed Gaed Salah has urged the judiciary to investigate all people suspected of being involved in corruption.
Several senior figures including another former prime minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, and eight former ministers appeared last month in a court in Algiers on suspicion of corruption.
Bouteflika’s youngest brother, Said, and two former intelligence chiefs have been placed in custody by a military judge for “harming the army’s authority and plotting against state authority”. l
Several prominent businessmen, some of them close to Bouteflika, have been detained pending trial.
Protesters are now seeking the departure of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, both seen as part of the elite that has ruled the North African country since independence from France in 1962.
Ouyahia’s RND supports the interim government, but is not part of it.
Authorities have postponed a presidential election previously planned for July 4, citing a lack of candidates. No new date has been set for the vote.
(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Catherine Evans and Alison Williams)