Algeria braces for biggest protests against president in decades


Riot police have surrounded Algeria’s presidential headquarters and parliament as demonstrators gather for what are expected to be the country’s biggest protests in decades against Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is seeking a fifth term in office.

Thousands angry at the ailing president’s attempt to prolong his 20 years in power began taking to the streets before the end of midday Muslim prayers on Friday, local media reported. His opponents say Bouteflika, 81, who been seen in public only a handful of times since he suffered a serious stroke in 2013, is no longer fit to lead and that Algeria is being ruled in his name by a group of advisers including the president’s brother, Said.

“We’re not against him; he’s sick, he’s resting. We’re against the system,” one protester, Youssef, told Agence France-Presse. Amine, a 23-year-old welder who has been unemployed for four years, said there was “no future in Algeria” and he would regain hope “if the entire system is removed”. Algerian authorities say the president, who came to power in 1999, still has a firm grip on public affairs. “Bouteflika was sick when he sought a fourth term in 2014, but his medical results for the past five years were good,” the prime minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, told parliament on Thursday.(theguardian)…[+]