Dozens are in prison over links with the Hirak movement or peaceful opposition political activity, says rights group.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune set June 12 as the date for early legislative elections, the presidency said on Thursday, after announcing the dissolution of the lower house of parliament last month.
The vote is part of political reforms promised by Tebboune following mass protests that forced his predecessor, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to resign in 2019 after 20 years in power.
The legislative elections will be followed by local elections for mayors and town councilors.
In another effort to satisfy protesters, Algeria’s government finalised a new electoral bill on Sunday aimed at limiting corruption and giving voters more choice. The last legislative election in 2017 was marred by financial scandals that eventually sent several top officials to prison.
Algerians in November of last year voted for amendments to the constitution giving more powers to the prime minister and parliament, despite low voter turnout.
Bouteflika’s allies had an overwhelming majority in the dissolved lower house, which was elected in May 2017 for five years.
Elected in December 2019, Tebboune has promised to implement political and economic changes in a bid to put an end to the protest movement that demanded the departure of the ruling elite.
Last month he ordered the release of 59 detainees of the protest movement known as Hirak in an apparent bid to stop demonstrations that first broke out on February 22, 2019.
But protests resumed three weeks ago after a halt caused by a coronavirus lockdown imposed by the government in March 2020. Activists say the changes so far to Algeria’s opaque, military-dominated power structure have only been cosmetic.