Protests In Algeria As President Announces Fifth Term Re-Election Bid

Channels Television  
Updated February 22, 2019
Algerian policemen surround protestors during a demonstration against Algeria’s president’s candidacy for a fifth term, on February 22, 2019 in Algiers. RYAD KRAMDI / AFP


Several hundred demonstrators, in defiance of a ban on protests, rallied in the Algerian capital Friday against a bid by ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a fifth term, an AFP correspondent said.

“No fifth mandate,” chanted the mostly young demonstrators, many waving Algerian flags, as they started to march through central Algiers without police intervening despite a heavy deployment and a helicopter hovering overhead.

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

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.

READ ALSO: 7.5-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Ecuador

Activists used social media to call for Friday rallies against Bouteflika across the country after the weekly Muslim prayers, also filling the main square in Annaba, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Algiers with demonstrators, the TSA news website said.

Other smaller gatherings were reported in several other towns.

Bouteflika, the 81-year-old head of state who uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, announced on February 10 that he will run for another term in April presidential polls.

He spoke of an “unwavering desire to serve” despite his health constraints and pledged to set up an “inclusive national conference” to address political and economic reforms.

His office announced Thursday that Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999, will travel to Switzerland for “routine medical checks” ahead of the April 18 election.