Rabat – The recent announcement of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika that he would seek re-election for a fifth term in office has sparked a wave of protests throughout Algeria. Thousands of people turned up to protest after Friday prayers after the hashtag #protest_february_22 circulated on social media.
Protesters, waving banners, were chanting hostile slogans to the president. During a rally in the city of Constantine, the protestors chanted “Bouteflika, the Moroccan, there will be no fifth term” in reference to the fact that Bouteflika was born in Oujda, Morocco.
Algeria is set to hold presidential elections in less than two months on April 18.
Although the Friday afternoon protests remained largely peaceful in Algiers, police deployed as reinforcements in several neighborhoods and major sites of the city. When protesters began marching on the presidential palace, police fired tear gas, according to the BBC.
The fear that the protests might spark violence led the US embassy to post on Twitter, “Dear U.S. Citizens in Algeria: This is a demonstration alert for U.S. Embassy Algiers, Algeria. Event: Demonstrations may take place throughout the country on Friday, February 22 and Sunday, February 24, 2019. Actions to take: Monitor local media and avoid crowds and demos.”
Bouteflika has rarely been seen in public since he suffered a stroke in 2013.