Thousands of students demonstrate on Tuesday in the centre of Algiers, denouncing a “ruse” of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to stay in power, in the aftermath of the withdrawal of his candidacy for a 5th mandate and the postponement of the presidential election.
“Students are resistant to the extension of the 4th mandate!”, chant of the protesters -including teachers, the waving of many flags and marching through the arteries near the High-Post, a landmark building in the heart of the capital.
“Peaceful, peaceful”, they scream also, motto of the protest was born on 22 February against the desire of president Bouteflika to run for a 5th mandate at the presidential election initially scheduled for 18 April.
“It is necessary to save the people, not the power”, “No ruse, Bouteflika”, yelling, even the students who appear for the 3rd Tuesday in a row, after repeated calls on the social networks as soon as the “message to the Nation,” Mr. Bouteflika read on Monday evening on national TV.
Faced with a challenge unprecedented since his election to the head of Algeria 20 years ago, the algerian head of State has announced to renounce to run for a 5th mandate and postpone the presidential election of 18 April, without, however, establishing specific maturity.
It has extended its mandate indefinitely, until a next election whose date will be fixed later by a “national Conference”, to which he wished the work to be complete “before the end of the year.”
– “No extra time” –
“It is a ruse to gain time, to attempt to stop the movement, the time to bring another puppet as president”, said to AFP Amel, a student in Mathematics-Computer science in Algiers.
For Riad Labed, 22 years old, student in geology, M. “Bouteflika does not have the right to extend its mandate without the consent of the people”.
Sign of the responsiveness of the social networks and protesters, on the many posters, “5”, circled and crossed out in red, the logo of the initial litigation against a 5th mandate, left the place to a “4+”, and a refusal now of the extension of the current 4th term of office of Mr. abdelaziz Bouteflika, which expires on 28 April.
On other placards, we can read: “This is not a football match! Non-extra-time” or “Not in the provisional that lasts”.
Internationally, France, the former colonial power, has welcomed Tuesday, by the vote of the chairman Emmanuel Macron, the “decision of president Bouteflika,” while calling for “a transition in a reasonable period of time”.
The mobilization student Tuesday should be a first indication of the success or failure of the announcements of the head of State to calm down the protests, unprecedented in scope since its first election in 1999.
The gatherings for students are planned in other cities.
In Oran and Annaba, the second and the fourth city in the country, the students are currently gathered in general Assemblies on campus to organize the continuation of the mobilisation, according to local journalists.
In Oran, many high school students are again took to the streets on Tuesday.
The true telling will be, however, Friday, the first day of the weekend and a traditional day of protest for almost three weeks.
– “The great deception” –
On social networks the hashtag “Mouvement_du_15_Mars” has already replaced those of the 22 February, 1 and 8 march –three Friday the previous theatres of mass demonstrations– in calling for a 4th Friday in a row mobilisation.
On Tuesday, the daily El Watan, the tuning fork, said see in the announcements of the day before “the last trick of Bouteflika” that “cancels the presidential election and remains in power”.
Freedom, other francophone daily, lambasted “the great deception”, and also believes that “the president is trying a new ruse with the people”.
El Khabar noted that Mr Bouteflika “is bent to the demand of the people not to stand in the presidential election, but by using a process enabling him to remain president without elections”.
“It is not known how the street, who asked him to leave power, will react,” adds the daily Arabic-speaking.
After two weeks of hospitalization in Switzerland, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82-year-old and seriously weakened following a STROKE in 2013, appeared on Monday night –the day after his return to Algeria– on images broadcast by national television, soon after his announcements.
We see to receive successively, in her nursing home of Zéralda, near Algiers, several high-ranking officials of the country.
Promoted to the rank of vice-Prime minister, Ramtane Lamamra, who also holds the portfolio of foreign Affairs, for its part, argued Monday night that the Algerians had “no right to error” in the face of the “historic responsibility” related to the decision to Abdelaziz Bouteflika not to run for a fifth term.
Mr. Lamamra, who was speaking on RFI and was assured that the next elections would be “absolutely free”, in the light of the guarantees provided by the authorities.