MON 22 - 7 - 2019
 
Date: Mar 16, 2019
Source: The Daily Star

Folder: Elections
Algerians call Bouteflika to quit in protest
Reuters
ALGIERS: Hundreds of thousands of people protested in central Algiers Friday in the biggest demonstration against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s 20-year rule since unrest began last month. Protesters crammed streets and squares in the capital after Friday prayers, many draped in Algeria’s red, green and white flag. Demonstrations also took place in Bejaia, Oran, Batna, Tizi Ouzou and other cities.

Reuters journalists estimated the crowd at hundreds of thousands of people but there was no police estimate. The number fell to thousands by late afternoon and no clashes were reported. Bouteflika Monday reversed a decision to stand for another term after weeks of demonstrations against him but he stopped short of relinquishing office and said he would stay on until a new constitution is adopted.

Algerians quickly rejected his offer and demanded that the 82-year-old president hands over power to a young generation of leaders who can create jobs and stamp out corruption

“Those who think we are tired are wrong. Our protests will not stop,” said doctor Madjid Benzida, 37, as police blocked streets leading to government offices and Parliament.

Bouteflika has been losing allies in recent days since returning from medical treatment in Switzerland.

A senior FLN figure said in an interview Thursday night the long-ruling president was “history now.” The remarks by Hocine Kheldoun to Ennahar television were another setback for Bouteflika, who hoped to pacify Algerians by promising to take steps to change a political landscape that has been dominated by a ruling elite for decades.

Kheldoun, a former ruling party spokesman, became one of the most senior FLN officials to break with Bouteflika publicly, saying the party had to look forward and support the aims of demonstrators.

Bouteflika has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. Protesters say he is no longer fit for office.

The new Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui said Thursday that he would form a temporary government of technocrats and others to work toward political change, and he urged the opposition to join in a dialogue.

A former minister who is familiar with Bouteflika’s inner circle told Reuters that the president could not survive given the pressure building against him.

“Game over. Bouteflika has no choice but to quit now,” the former minister said on condition of anonymity.

The military, which has traditionally played a behind-the-scenes power broker role, has distanced itself from Bouteflika and stayed in its barracks throughout the crisis.


 
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