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Algerians return to streets in biggest protest against ailing president

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By Pascale Davies  with Reuters
Algerians return to streets in biggest protest against ailing president
Copyright  Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Algeria's capital on Friday in the biggest protest yet to call on 82-year-old president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to step down after two decades in power.

Protesters gathered for a fourth consecutive Friday in Algiers' Grande Poste square. “Bouteflika and his men must go as soon as possible,” student Yazid Ammari, 23 told Reuters.

Demonstrators captured the mood on social media.


The latest protest is another test for Bouteflika — who made a surprise announcement on Monday, March 12 — following two weeks of anti-government demonstrations, that he would not seek a fifth term in office but would stay until a new constitution is adopted.

Bouteflika also cancelled a presidential vote set for April and promised a "national conference" to carry out reforms and said a new election would take place before the end of next year.

The announcement sparked the latest bout of protests and demands to hand over power to a younger generation of leaders who can create jobs and rule out corruption.

Pressure has mounted on Bouteflika, whose former FLN party spokesman, Hocine Kheldoun, turned his back on the president on Thursday in saying he is "history now".

Algeria's new prime minister, Noureddine Bedoui, assured Alegerians on Thursday that the political elite would listen to the demonstrators' demands.