Algeria: Protestors seek departure of Bouteflika

Many hundreds of Algerians have gathered through the streets of the capital of country along with many other major cities to demand quick departure of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and other ruling elite.

The recent spat of rallies have come after the Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah, who is the Chief of Army has called for the applying the special provision of the Algerian Constitution under which the President of the country can be removed due to his ailing health. As per Article 102, the Constitutional Council can take decision about the sitting head of the state is not capable anymore of fully exercising his functions and can also ask the Parliament that he is not fit for further rule. The move of Salah has however been rejected by the Opposition, on the pretext that it has come too late and is another attempt to maintain the status quo by the ruling class. People not only want Bouteflika to leave power but also want the old guard which has been ruling Algeria since 1962 to leave.

Ever since Bouteflika suffered a hard stroke in 2013, he had made only a very few public appearances as he has been confined to a wheelchair and even damaged his ability to talk. Despite the falling health, Bouteflika continued to enjoy the support of various powerbrokers of Algeria which also included the Algerian military. He was able to win the Presidential elections in 2014.

Bouteflika’s supporters give him the credit for his role in the independence of Algeria against the colonial power of France. Bouteflika was also instrumental in putting an end to the destructive civil war which had led to the death of over 200,000 Algerians in the 1990s.

Algerian authorities are continuously struggling to contain the recent wave of protests which are the biggest in the country since decades. Looking at the growing public anger, Bouteflika had given in to the demands of the people and announced that he will step down from power but also put off the elections. He however, promised his people that he will conduct the elections in this year itself and till then his rule was to be extended. The move did not satisfy the protestors who were demanding immediate withdrawal of the President along with his ruling class. The protestors thus, took to streets again. Bouteflika is seen to extend his rule illegally for the fourth time.

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