'Ballot box' to decide if ailing Algeria president gets 5th term - PM

2019-02-26 08:46
Algerian demonstrators tear down a large billboard with a picture of their current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on it, during a demonstration against his candidacy for a fifth term. (Ryad Kramdi, AFP)

Algerian demonstrators tear down a large billboard with a picture of their current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on it, during a demonstration against his candidacy for a fifth term. (Ryad Kramdi, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Algeria's prime minister on Monday insisted voters would determine if ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika gets a fifth term at the ballot box, after major protests against his candidacy.

Tens of thousands of people on Friday took to the streets, including in the capital Algiers where demonstrations are forbidden, to vent their ire at Bouteflika's bid to extend his 20 years in power at elections in April.

Presidential polls "will take place in less than two months, and everyone will make their choice freely", Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said in televised comments that were the first official reaction to the protests.

"Everyone has the right to support their candidate and be against any other candidate, the ballot box will decide in a peaceful and civilised way."

Bouteflika, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, announced on February 10 that he will run for another term in office.

The 81-year-old leader flew to Switzerland on Sunday for what the presidency called "routine medical checks" ahead of the April 18 vote.

"Thank god the rallies were peaceful, but I urge vigilance" as "calls to demonstrate were from an unknown source", Ouyahia said.

Protests

The premier insisted Bouteflika has pledged to hold a national "conference, unprecedented in the history of Algeria" if he is reelected, where "everything" can be discussed.

"Algeria has been through enough suffering and experienced enough reforms to have the opportunity to choose in peace and quiet," he said.

The scale of the demonstrations on Friday took many in the North African state by surprise.

A follow-up call for protests by a small opposition group drew hundreds in central Algiers Sunday, but they were met by a heavy police deployment and tear gas.

On Monday around a hundred lawyers protested at court over the fifth term, waving placards that they were "with the people".

Students have called on social media for fresh demonstrations Tuesday, while teachers and university lecturers have urged their colleagues to join in.

Bouteflika, who has governed Algeria since 1999, was instrumental in fostering peace after a decade-long civil war in the 1990s.

The European Union is following developments in Algeria closely and wants to see free elections, Maja Kocijancic, the spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, told reporters in Brussels.

"When it comes to the upcoming elections as for any other partner, we wish this election would allow the citizens to express themselves freely, calmly and in compliance with the democratic framework and the rule of law," she said.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    abdelaziz bouteflika  |  algeria  |  north africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.