Algerians bemused as Bouteflika pulls out of presidential race, postpones election

Algerians bemused as Bouteflika pulls out of presidential race, postpones election

Six Algerian teachers’ unions strike today in Algiers as part of the mounting protests against current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika ahead

algeria bouteflika election postpone

Photo: AFP/Ryad Kramdi

Six Algerian teachers’ unions strike today in Algiers as part of the mounting protests against current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika ahead of now-delayed elections.

The election process was thrown into chaos on Monday when the current President bowed to the pressure of weeks of mass demonstrations, promising a transition to a new government. This will delay the elections, but Mr Bouteflika has promised not to seek a fifth term. The 82-year-old has been largely absent from public life since a 2013 stroke, and his candidacy prompted speculation that he was a puppet of a small faction of civilian and military figures.

While Mr Bouteflika granted some of the protesters’ wishes, many have said they will continue demonstrations until he officially steps down. His move to delay elections and appoint a transition government has prompted worries that he will remain in power for the foreseeable future and hand-pick his successor.

The protests are not expected to abate anytime soon, with another demonstration scheduled for Friday. Short-term fears now centre on the role of the military, which has been neutral in the conflict thus far. Should the election process descend further into chaos, it is possible that the military will step in, akin to the Egyptian military’s action during the country’s 2011 protests.

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