Thursday 17 October 2019

Protests continue in bid to break Algerian president’s hold on power

Thousand gathered for another march in capital Algiers against the leader who has been in power since 1999.

Protesters sang and threw flowers during the protest (Anis Belghoul/AP)
Protesters sang and threw flowers during the protest (Anis Belghoul/AP)

By Aomar Ouali, Associated Press

Thousands of protesters are marching through central Algiers to protest over President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s hold on power.

The protesters, wrapped in Algerian flags, singing and throwing flowers, converged after prayers in a dense stream stretching nearly a kilometre.

Onlookers threw flowers and confetti from flag-draped balconies, while security forces watched from the sidelines without intervening.

The protesters are challenging Mr Bouteflika’s fitness to run for a fifth term in next month’s election.

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A woman demonstrates in Algiers, Friday, March 8, 2019. As Friday prayers let out, Algerians gathered in the center of the capital under the close watch of nearby security forces. Holding signs calling for current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s ouster, carrying Algerian flags and chanting, the crowd began walking down the city’s wide boulevards. (AP Photo/Anis Belghoul)

The Algerian leader has been in power since 1999, but has been all but absent from the public eye since a stroke in 2013.

He has been in hospital in Switzerland since last month for what the government describes as medical tests.

It is the third Friday running that people have protested, and the demonstrations have continued into the week.

More than a dozen political parties and unions have thrown their support behind the widening street protests.

At a meeting that ended late on Thursday, 15 opposition parties and four unions praised the protest movement and criticised the government for its “stubborn power” in insisting upon the elections in April.

Protesters are calling for a general strike if the government does not back down.

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