New protests in Algeria after President Bouteflika submits re-election bid

Opponents have taken to the streets for the last ten days, saying Bouteflika is no longer fit to lead the North African country, a major oil and gas producer.
Algerians protesting in the city of Oran, on March 1, 2019, during a rally against ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in power.
Algerians protesting in the city of Oran, on March 1, 2019, during a rally against ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in power.PHOTO: AFP

ALGIERS (REUTERS) - Hundreds of Algerians gathered in the capital and other cities late on Sunday (March 3) to protest against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's plan to seek re-election, according to residents and footage posted online.

Hundreds of youths gathered in the centre of Algiers chanting anti-government slogans, the scene of mass protests on Friday and Sunday, residents said.

Algerian websites also reported protests in Bouira, Tizi, Ouzou and Boufarik.

Hours before, Bouteflika submitted his official papers for the April 18 election, his campaign manager said, with Ennahar TV saying he had offered to step down after a year if re-elected.

The comments are likely to be viewed as an attempt to appease those who had taken to the streets for 10 days to protest against the 82-year-old's plans to remain in office and to allow him an exit on his own terms.

Bouteflika's statement was his first since the biggest displays of dissent in Algeria since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that unseated rulers in neighbouring countries.

In a sign of a disconnect from the mostly young population, almost 70 per cent of which are aged below 30, he communicated via letter, as he has since suffering a stroke in 2013.