Algiers, Algeria – Tens of thousands of people braved cold weather on Friday in Algiers to demand President Abdelaziz Bouteflika step down, as rallies against the ailing leader’s re-election bid spread across Algeria for a third consecutive week.
The protest, which coincided with International Women’s Day, saw an even larger crowd pour onto the streets of the capital compared with the previous mass gatherings.
In what has become a habit since February 22, the mostly young demonstrators chanted slogans against the 82-year-old president, his brother and “le pouvoir”, or the powers that be – a vague term Algerians use to refer to the shadowy clique of politicians, high ranking military officials and oligarchs who they believe have been running the country.
A day earlier, and from his hospital bed in Geneva where he has sought medical treatment since February 24, Bouteflika on Thursday warned against infiltration by “internal and external elements” who sought to “stir sedition and spread chaos”.
He has tried to make concessions by offering to organise a national dialogue conference, changing the constitution and holding a vote within a year if re-elected in which he vowed not to take part.