Students protest in Algeria over president's bid for a fifth term





Algiers -By Fatma Hamdi and Youcef Tazir, – University students on Sunday staged protests in several parts of Algeria as opposition mounts against ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid to seek a fifth term in office.
The 82-year-old was set to officially register his candidacy later Sunday.



 
In the capital, Algiers, hundreds of students gathered Sunday inside the city's university and chanted slogans against Bouteflika’s re-election plan, witnesses said.
Police prevented the protesters from leaving the campus.
However, some students were able to breach the security cordon and march to the nearby offices of the Constitutional Council, the agency in charge of handling the papers of potential contenders for next month's presidential election, witnesses added.
The protesters demanded that the council not accept the candidacy documents Bouteflika is expected to submit later Sunday, the last day for registration.
Security forces have blocked access to the council, according to witnesses.
Police personnel have been stationed at focal points for protesters and around state institutions in Algiers since early Sunday.
Elsewhere in Algeria, university students staged a massive rally against Bouteflika's bid in the eastern province of Batna, Algerian online newspaper Elkhabar reported.
The protesters marched from their campus to the provincial headquarters chanting "No to a fifth term," according to the report.
Security forces monitored the march but did not intervene.
A similar student protest was held in the northern province of M'Sila, Algerian media said, reporting no violence.
Mass protests have erupted across Algeria since Bouteflika announced last month his intention to seek a new five-year term in the April 18 poll.
Some opposition parties have said that they will boycott the vote in protest against his re-election bid.
Bouteflika has named a new head of his election campaign.
He also presented a statement on his property, a requirement for potential presidential contenders in Algeria, state-run newspaper Elmoudjahid reported on Saturday.
Bouteflika has ruled the North African country since 1999. He suffered a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in public.
His fitness for staying in power has been an open question since he stood for the 2014 presidential vote, which he won.
He is the only president in North Africa who was spared in the pro-democracy uprisings of the Arab Spring, which started in neighbouring Tunisia in 2010.
At the time, his government contained pro-democracy protests with promises of reform and pay raises, financed by the country's revenues from oil and gas.
But in recent years, Algeria's finances have been hurt by the global drop in oil prices, prompting cuts in state subsidies.

Sunday, March 3rd 2019
By Fatma Hamdi and Youcef Tazir,
           


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