500,000 Protest in Algeria Against Bouteflika

Leroy Wright
March 10, 2019

Arab news channels broadcast live video of the demonstrations, which showed Algerian security forces blocking the road to the presidential palace as protesters attempted to approach the landmark. Large protests were also held in the provinces of Batna, Bouira, Skikda and M'Sila.

Tens of thousands of Algerians, exhausted of the dominance of elderly veterans of the 1954-1962 war of independence against France, have protested for the past three weeks to urge Bouteflika not to stand in an election scheduled for April 18.

In a surprise move on Saturday in order to curb the protests, the Algerian higher education ministry brought forward the university spring vacation to begin on Sunday until April 4.

Clashes erupted between protesters and police in the Algerian capital on Friday as tens of thousands of Algerians packed central Algiers to capacity to challenge President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's 20-year-old rule in the biggest protests in the capital in 28 years.

Bouteflika has offered to limit his term after the election and has vowed to change the "system" that runs the country, but the protest movement has galvanised discontent among different sectors, particularly students and young families.

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TSA said that 112 policemen were injured at protests.

Firefighters arrived promptly and prevented the blaze from spreading, while police had managed to retrieve a sabre dating from the time of the Algerian resistance to the French conquest of Algeria in the early 19th century, it said.

The head of state has been in Switzerland since February 24 for what the presidency describes as "routine medical tests", and a date for his return home has not yet been announced.

Ditisheim said her client had already requested that the University Hospitals of Geneva release Bouteflika's medical records to determine his actual condition, maintaining it was of public interest to Algerians.

Major demonstrations were reported in other cities across the country by security sources, Algerian media and social networks. One scenario, he says, "is that the president steps down, handing power to the head of parliament".

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