Algeria president’s offer to protesters fails to quell anger
ALGIERS- The Associated Press
Crowds of mainly young protesters faced off with riot police in Algiers until early on March 4 after Bouteflika’s campaign manager formalized the longtime leader’s candidacy for a fifth term in the April 18 election. Demonstrations were also held in other cities.
In a written message to the nation, 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.
Bouteflika was first elected in 1999. Questions about his fitness for office have grown since he suffered a stroke in 2013 and remained largely out of public view during his fourth term.
He turned 82 on Saturday and underwent medical checks in Switzerland last week.
Although the president’s office earlier had said Bouteflika intended to run again, his candidacy wasn’t formal until March 3.
Bouteflika’s campaign chief, Abdelghani Zaalane, filed the president’s candidacy papers Sunday at the Constitutional Council in Algiers, the country’s capital. Hundreds of students took to the streets to denounce the new bid.