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Algeria: Provinces Witness Demonstrations Against Bouteflika’s Presidential Candidacy

Algeria: Provinces Witness Demonstrations Against Bouteflika’s Presidential Candidacy

Sunday, 17 February, 2019 - 09:00
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen in Algiers, Algeria April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina/File Photo
Algiers - Boualem Ghadrassa, Asharq Al-Awsat
Popular crowds took to the streets in several Algerian provinces to reject the candidacy of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for April 18, the German News Agency reported.

Protesters called on Bouteflika to go back on his decision to run for the presidency after residents of the state of Bejaia and Khorata (300 km east of the capital) and the state of Bordj Bou Arreridj (200 kilometers from the capital) marched in peaceful rallies raising different slogans. Other marches also took place in Tizi Ouzou and other Algerian states.

Demonstrators carried black flags, expressing their utmost rejection of the country’s political situation, while thousands of police and security officers were deployed in the streets and neighborhoods of the capital, especially after news emerged about the holding of a “million-people march.”

According to local sources, the organizers of the demonstrations belong to local cultural and social organizations, with the absence of partisan members and human rights activists, although the region is a stronghold of opposition parties and large human rights organizations such as the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights.

The security forces, however, did not intervene to prevent the march. In the afternoon, the protesters quietly withdrew, asserting that they would return to protest on Feb. 24.

Meanwhile, Abdelmalek Sellal, Bouteflika’s campaign manager, continued his meetings with large organizations and associations as part of efforts to rally support for a fifth presidential term.

During a meeting at the headquarters of the Farmers’ Union on Saturday, he said: “They [the president’s opponents] claim that the president is ill and did not follow what happened during his fourth term. But they cannot withhold statistics and figures. What has been achieved at the economic and social levels during this period is much better than what was achieved during the previous stages, and in all sectors, especially housing and water, which shows that the president has strong men surrounding him.”

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