Thousands of Algerians Protest against Bouteflika’s Run for Reelection

Friday, 22 February, 2019 - 18:30
Asharq Al-Awsat

Thousands of Algerians protested on Friday against President Abdulaziz Bouteflika’s decision to run for a fifth term in office.

"No fifth mandate" and “No to Bouteflika and no to Said” chanted the mostly young demonstrators, many waving Algerian flags, as they started to march through central Algiers. The president’s youngest brother Said Bouteflika is a presidential adviser.

"Ouyahia, get out!" they also cried around the capital's landmark Grand Post Office, referring to Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia.

Reuters journalists filmed police firing tear gas being over a crowd that ran to escape.

“We and the security are brothers,” some protesters chanted.

The protest came after mosque preachers had warned in Friday prayers against demonstrating, warning of violence.

Other smaller gatherings were reported in several other towns.

Another demonstration is planned on Sunday in Algiers.

An official ban on demonstrations in Algiers was imposed in 2001. But in February 2018, thousands of trainee doctors tried to hold a protest at the same venue. They were rapidly encircled and their path blocked by police.

Bouteflika, 81, has been in office since 1999. He announced that he will contest the April 18 presidential election, despite concerns over his health. He has been seen in public only a handful of times since suffering a stroke in 2013.

Bouteflika’s reelection bid comes after the ruling FLN party picked him as its official presidential candidate.

Many young people feel disconnected from the political elite that is made up of veteran fighters from Algeria’s 1954-1962 independence war with France.

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