Thousands of Algerians rally to demand Bouteflika quit
Thousands of Algerians rallied again on Friday to demand the immediate resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is fighting for his political survival in the face of relentless protests and the desertion of long-time allies, Trend reports citing Reuters.
Defying heavy rain, the protesters brandished Algerian flags and pamphlets as they gathered in the same spot in the capital where a wave of demonstrations first erupted a month ago against Bouteflika’s 20-year rule.
“Rain will not prevent us from continuing pressure,” said student Ahmed Khoudja, 23, in a square in central Algiers.
The protests were expected to swell further after Friday prayers, as has happened on the four previous Fridays during this wave of demonstrations that kicked off on Feb 22.
“We stay here until the whole system goes,” said Mahmoud Timar, a 37-year old teacher.
Bouteflika, 82, rarely seen in public since suffering a stroke five years ago, bowed to the protesters last week by reversing plans to stand for a fifth term and promising an inclusive politics in Algeria, a major oil and gas producer.
But he stopped short of quitting and said he would stay on until a new constitution is adopted, effectively extending his present term. The move further enraged Algerians, and many of Bouteflika’s allies, from ruling party members to trade union leaders to tycoons, turned against him.
“We are close to victory. The system is divided,” said restaurant owner Rachid Zemmir, 55, at Friday’s rally.