Algeria: thousands protest against Bouteflika

Celebrations In Algeria As Bouteflika Quits

Celebrations In Algeria As Bouteflika Quits

"Bouteflika has no right to prolong his mandate without the people's approval", said 22-year-old geology student Riad Labed.

Many on social media said they saw his announcement on Monday evening as the same offer but without submitting himself to a popular vote.

Many critics also accuse Bouteflika and what Algerians term "le Pouvoir" - referring to a shadowy clique of elites - for nurturing endemic corruption.

On Tuesday 26 2019, the citizens of Algeria took the streets to protest against President Bouteflika re-election bid, calling him unfit to rule. This was the principal demand of the hundreds of thousands - possibly millions - who marched peacefully through cities and towns across Algeria on Friday in protests on a scale not seen for decades. On Sunday, a general strike was announced, threatening to paralyse the country.

Algeria's president says he is creating a new government and a special body to draft a new constitution to respond to mass protests. He became president in 1999 and reconciled a nation riven by a deadly Islamic insurgency, but questions swirl over whether he is really running the country today.

Bouteflika, who came to power in the aftermath of Algeria's 1954-62 independence war against France, has promised "deep reforms".

"We support efforts in Algeria to chart a new path forward based on dialogue that reflects the will of all Algerians and their aspirations for a peaceful and prosperous future", State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told a briefing. "It is obvious that the regime is afraid of the people and the peaceful protest", he said, adding that he sees the president's move as a tactical necessity more than a desire for honest reform.

Opposition parties, for their part, have been holding continuous consultations to reach consensus over the steps to take, in a bid to force the government to take into consideration the claims of this wide-scale protest movement.

Bouteflika has managed to stay in power by pushing through constitutional amendments to keep extending term limits.

The United States said it backed the talks going on in Algeria and that it was "closely monitoring" reports elections had been postponed.

For a country that has long banked on stability, Algeria is now buffeted by serious winds of change, with massive protests morphing into the biggest challenge facing its aging government in almost three decades.

"Since I was born, the only (president) I've known is Bouteflika", said a young protesting girl Amina, asking not to give her full name.

Video posted online showed stunned citizens in Algiers' central Audin Square waving their arms with joy to a chorus of celebratory auto horns.

Algerian journalist Amine Hocine told The National that the sense of celebration and the hesitation wasn't a contradiction.

Concerns over Bouteflika's health began during his second term in 2005, when he secretly entered the Val de Grace military hospital in Paris for a bleeding ulcer.

But key to satisfying the protesters' demand will be a timetable for his departure.

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