Published: Tue, March 05, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Algeria's Bouteflika offers to leave within a year if re-elected

Algeria's Bouteflika offers to leave within a year if re-elected

According to witnesses and local television footage, protesters also turned out in their thousands in other cities around the major oil- and gas-producing country, such as Oran, Batna, Blida, Skikda and Bouira.

Several hundreds of mainly young men marched through Algiers' centre, where riot police were blocking some roads, chanting anti-government slogans.

Algeria's ailing president has said if he wins a fifth term in April he will promote political changes demanded by critics and call an early presidential election in which he will not run. Bouteflika has rendered a handful of public emergence or discourse since enduring a stroke in 2013 intensifying conjecture that the country is productively operated by his advisor and brother, Saïd Bouteflika, beside the premiere of the military Ahmed Gaïd Salah, and a cabal of blurred political and military officials known as le pouvoir or "the power".

By Sunday evening, seven candidates had registered to run against Bouteflika.

"I also commit to drafting a new Constitution that establishes a new Republic and system, and to submitting it to the people for adoption through a referendum".

His campaign chief submitted Bouteflika's candidacy Sunday, instead of the president himself, who was in Switzerland last week for medical tests.

Bouteflika underlined that the early presidential election will be held according to the agenda adopted by the national conference.

Bouteflika's opponents say he is no longer fit to lead, citing his health and what they call chronic corruption and a lack of economic reforms to tackle high unemployment, which exceeds 25 percent among people under 30.

"For a presidential election, all candidates must present themselves at the Constitutional Council to submit their candidacy papers", Abdelwahab Derbal, the head of the election commission, told reporters on Sunday.

Police deployed massively around the council's headquarters in Algiers on Sunday and the road leading to it was blocked, while journalists seeking to cover the arrival of candidates were locked in a room.

A crowd of mostly students in the center of the capital chanted "Bouteflika go away!"

On Friday, clashes erupted between police and protesters in Algiers as tens of thousands of people took to the streets.

Signalling tensions at the top and the regime's determination to maintain power, Bouteflika suddenly sacked his campaign manager Abdelmalek Sellal on Saturday.

Authorities have warned that the protests risk dragging Algeria into instability, comparing the rallies to those that sparked Syria's ongoing war.

While Algeria did experience some Arab Spring-inspired protests in 2011, the government was able to avoid the unrest that followed in many other countries by financing widespread wage increases across the country using the national oil and gas revenues.

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