Algerian protesters denounce Bouteflika bid for a fourth presidential term

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An Algerian protester is arrested by policemen during a protest outside the constitutional council in Algiers on March 6, 2014, against the bid by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for a fourth term in the up coming April 17 national elections. (Photo: AFP - Farouk Batiche)

Published Thursday, March 6, 2014

Algerian security forces on Thursday arrested at least 40 people protesting against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika standing for a fourth term next month, local media reported.

"Long live Algeria!" and "Free and democratic Algeria!" protesters chanted before police intervened forcefully to disperse them in central Algiers.

Footage by Algerian news channel Al-Nahar TV showed policemen grabbing protesters and forcing them into vans.

Demonstrators bundled into vans by security forces continued their protest by banging on the sides of the vehicles.

"Fifty-two years - Barakat!" (That's enough!) cried one woman referring to 52 years of independence under the same management.

Public demonstrations in Algeria remain banned, despite a state of emergency being lifted in 2011, and a similar protest last week was also scattered.

Barakat, a new movement that opposes a fourth Bouteflika candidacy, was formed by gynecologist Amina Bouraoui, who was arrested along with journalist Mehdi Biskri of the French-language edition of al-Watan newspaper.

In a letter addressed to the Algerian constitutional council on Tuesday, Barakat called for the rejection of Bouteflika’s candidacy.

“Taking into articles related to candidates’ eligibility, the health of the incumbent president and his complete incapacity to assume his constitutional responsibilities [...] we call upon your conscience and your sense of duty to...make a decision regarding the case of Mr. Abdelaziz Bouteflika in accordance to the law,” the statement read.

Twelve candidates have registered for Algeria's April 17 presidential election, the APS national news agency said Wednesday, with 77-year-old incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika widely expected to win a fourth term.

The Constitutional Council now has 10 days to examine the applications of the candidates before announcing the final list of contenders for campaigning, which is set to begin on March 23.

Bouteflika, who has been in power for 15 years, suffered a mini-stroke in April 2013.

He made a rare public appearance on Monday to submit the papers for his own candidacy for the presidential election.

He also confirmed his candidacy on television, the first time he has spoken in public since returning from hospital treatment in Paris in July last year.

Al-Watan described the footage of Bouteflika’s announcement shown on ENTV as a “demonstration of the physical weakness of the incumbent president.”

Ali Benflis, a former prime minister who is seen as Bouteflika's main challenger, also submitted his own candidacy papers on Tuesday but warned against the possibility of electoral fraud, speaking of "low, dirty and cowardly practices that cast doubts on the credibility of the presidential election."

Soufiane Djilali a liberal presidential candidate who threw in the towel last week after Bouteflika said he would stand again, expressed his disgust to AFP.

"We are tired of this half-dead man and the thugs who surround him. The political equation must change," Djilali said.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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