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Algerian culture minister resigns over five people killed in stampede during a concert

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Algerian Culture Minister Meriem Merdassi resigned on Saturday, two days after a stampede at the entrance of Algerian rapper Soulking killed five people, the presidency announced.

“Today, Mariam Merdassi presented to President Abdelkader Bensalah her resignation as the Minister of Culture, who accepted it,” Algerian state television said in a statement.

Prime Minister Noureddine Badawi on Friday sacked the director-general of the National Copyright Office, a public body that organized the ceremony.

The stampede occurred Thursday at the entrances of the “20 August Stadium” (20 August 1955 stadium) in the popular district of Belouizdad (formerly Belkour), just before the start of the concert, which was held normally despite the incident.

Five people aged 13 to 22 died in the stampede.

On Friday, the Algerian public prosecutor announced “the opening of in-depth investigations with a view to knowing the circumstances and circumstances of this painful incident with the identification of responsibilities.”

Relatives of the victims and many Algerians have denounced the ceremony at the stadium, one of the country’s oldest.

It is the only concert in Algeria to be attended by 29-year-old Algerian rapper Soulking, whose real name is Abdel Raouf Draghi, who has been living in France since 2014 and who gained international fame in 2018.

In March 2019, Solking dedicated one of his songs, Freedom, to the unprecedented protest movement in Algeria, less than a month after its launch.

Demonstrators often chanted the song in their protests.

A major breakthrough was the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on April 2 after 20 years in power.

But the protest movement continues and demands the overthrow of the entire regime.

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