Algerian police use tear gas on anti-government protesters


ALGIERS (Reuters) – Police in Algiers fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators on a third straight day of protests against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s plan to run for a fifth term after six years of his near total absence from public life.

On Friday thousands took to the streets in the capital and other Algerian cities calling on Bouteflika, 81, to abandon his bid to stand in presidential election scheduled to be held on April 18.

Bouteflika, in office since 1999, has been seen in public only a handful of times since suffering a stroke in 2013.

“People do not want Bouteflika,” the crowd chanted at a protest called by an opposition group.

Since the ruling FLN party picked Bouteflika as its presidential candidate, several political parties, trade unions and business organisations have already said they would back him, and he is expected to win easily as the opposition remains weak and divided.

Strikes and protests over social and economic grievances are frequent in Algeria, but are generally localised and do not touch on national politics.

More than a quarter of Algerians under 30 are unemployed, according to official figures, and many feel disconnected from a ruling elite made up of veteran fighters from Algeria’s 1954-1962 independence war with France.

Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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