Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s offer to leave within one year after his re-election did not appease the thousands of protesters opposing his bid for a fifth term.
Rabat – Thousands of Algerian university students from several campuses across Algiers and other cities took to the streets again yesterday, calling for a general strike if their ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika does not step down.
The waves of protests, which started on February 22, are persisting as Algeria’s young people started this week by gathering in central Algiers, Oran, Constantine, and other Algerican cities and towns, shouting anti-Bouteflika slogans and holding flags and banners reading, “Algeria is not a monarchy.”
On Tuesday, the twelfth day in the series of demonstrations, the biggest since the Arab Spring in 2011, young Algerians are responding to Bouteflika’s promises, saying, “No means no.”.
Bouteflika released a statement on Sunday, March 3, addressing the protests and offering to step down after a year if he wins re-election for a fifth term in the April 18 election.
Bouteflika’s statement, read out by his new campaign manager Abdelghani Zaalene, entailed: “I have heard the pleas of protesters and especially the thousands of young people who asked about our nation’s future … I am committed to the organization of an early presidential election.”
The Algerian people expressed throughout this week’s protests that they could no longer wait for Bouteflika to leave.
Abderahman, a 21-year-old student, told international media covering the protests that Bouteflika, who is seeking to prolong his 20 years in power, wants “an extra year.”
“We don’t want him to stay even an extra second. He should leave now,” Abderahman said.
Bouteflika, who has been in Switzerland since February for routine medical checks, was unable to submit his papers for candidacy in person when they were due March 3. Zaalene submitted the official candidacy papers for Bouteflika.
The presidential elections will take place April 18.