Algerian ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has confirmed that he will be a part of the upcoming elections in April, prompting a fresh round of protests against the incumbent leader’s rule.
In a written message to the nation, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said if he is re-elected April 18, he would organize a public referendum on a new Constitution and respond to an opposition demand for an independent electoral commission.
The longtime leader also vowed to immediately call a “national conference” to set a date and prepare for another presidential election. Bouteflika’s decision to run next month has prompted rare, massive protests in recent days.
“I have heard the pleas of protesters and especially thousands of young people who asked about our nation’s future,” he wrote in his public message.
Tens of thousands of students staged new protests Sunday in the Algerian capital and other cities against a fifth term for Bouteflika.
Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999, has used a wheelchair since suffering a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in public.
Chanting “Bouteflika go away,” protesters rallied near the main city center campus of the University of Algiers, cordoned off by police, AFP journalists said.
Hundreds more students held rallies at campuses across Algiers, including at the Faculty of Law near the headquarters of the Constitutional Council.
Police fired water cannon to prevent protesters from reaching the Council, where candidates must register for the presidential race, security sources said.
Rallies inside and outside campuses in the northeastern city of Annaba also drew hundreds chanting “anti-Bouteflika” slogans, a local journalist said on condition of anonymity.
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