Protesting Algerians want aging Bouteflika to step down and not run for elections

ALGERIA CONTINUES to be tense as protests go on unabated against the dictatorial rule of President Bouteflika.

Bouteflika has been in charge of the North African country for the past two decades.

The protests, the most peaceful in the last eight years, begun last week where over 183 people were injured on Friday, according to state news agency APS, citing the health ministry.

Taking to the streets on Sunday, Algerians called on the 82-year-old President to step down and not to submit his official application at the Constitutional Council. Gathered at a university campus near the Constitutional Council, students chanted “No to a fifth term!” and “A free and democratic Algeria!”

Security forces prevented students from leaving the campus.

Abdelghani Zaalane, Bouteflika’s campaign manager, arrived on Sunday evening to submit documents. He announced on Bouteflika’s behalf that his political principal pledged to organize an early election to be held within a year and then step down. Critics described the statement as an attempt to appease the crowds and a lousy try at stopping the protests.

There is no reaction from protesters yet after the announcement in the evening. Abdelwahab Derbal, head of the election commission, made a statement that all candidates must submit candidacy papers in person. That may result in an end for Bouteflika’s presidency, when applied.

His opponents do not find the ailing Bouteflika fit to rule the country that is rich in oil and gas resources. He suffered a stroke in 2013. He has rarely been seen in public since then. He was still in Switzerland on Sunday, the deadline for candidates, being treated for unspecified medical checks since last week, according to reports in Swiss media.

In a fear of having trouble with security services, Algerians mostly refrained from publicly protesting against rulers who have been in governance since the 1954-1962 independence war with France.

Governing since 1999, veteran Bouteflika stamped out a decade-long Islamist insurgency during his early times. Algerians remained silent to his political system for the sake of peace and stability, while opposition parties suffered from hurdles in mounting an electoral challenge.

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