Son of former Algeria PM dies during anti-Bouteflika protests

04 March, 2019, 13:15 | Author: Carlos George
  • Algerian students protest against Abdelaziz Bouteflika re-election plans in Algiers on Tuesday

In the capital Algiers, the protest was peaceful as anti-riot forces did not resort to repression, Xinhua reporter noticed.

On February 10 Bouteflika ends months of speculation and confirms that he intends to seek a fifth term in April 18 elections.

Such anti-government protests are unusual in Algeria, where questions are growing about Bouteflika's fitness for office after a 2013 stroke that has left him largely hidden from public.

The confirmation on February 10 that Algeria's ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika would contest a fifth term sparked a series of protests in the North African country.

Authorities said last week he would travel to Geneva for unspecified medical checks.

Among those protesting were a woman active in Algeria's war against French colonial rule a half century ago and the head of one of Algeria's biggest companies, according to local media.

Algerian media did not report on his trip but Swiss public television said late on Saturday that Bouteflika remained at Geneva University Hospital.

Assembling in the city centre after Friday prayers, protesters chanted "Bye, bye Bouteflika" and "peaceful, peaceful".

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Anti-government protests are rare in Algeria, but several broke out after the 81 year old Abdelaziz Bouteflika, confirmed his intention to run for another term. State radio journalists complained that bosses blacked out coverage.

The same group of veterans have dominated Algerian politics since the war of independence with France ended in 1962.

Using slogans reminiscent of the "Arab Spring" that began in 2011 and eventually toppled dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, protesters expressed their wish to "overthrow the regime".

Many Algerians have long accepted a political system with little space for public dissent as a price to pay for peace and stability.

Mr Bouteflika led a large infrastructure investment and development plan through the 2000s off the back of the country's large petrochemical and natural resource reserves.

But in a sign of weakness to mount a challenge against the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), an umbrella group of opposition parties again called on Bouteflika to quit but did not nominate a single candidate.

Lower oil prices in recent years have damaged Algeria's economy, rekindling discontent and making it more hard to buy off dissent, as in 2011, when authorities expanded a welfare state.

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