Algerians Accuse President Bouteflika's Regime of 'Playing Tricks'

Algerians Accuse President Bouteflika's Regime of 'Playing Tricks'

Algerians Accuse President Bouteflika's Regime of 'Playing Tricks'

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (right) says he won't seek re-election following weeks of mass demonstrations against his tenure.

The influential El Watan newspaper on Tuesday carried a banner headline suggesting that Bouteflika's move to drop his bid for a fifth term was merely a "ploy".

Peaceful protests began in Algeria on February 22, days after Bouteflika, who has been in power for 20 years, announced his bid to run in the April presidential election.

The president returned Sunday from two weeks in a Geneva hospital, but the exact state of his health remains unclear.

In September, Algerians overwhelmingly approve a referendum on his civil reconciliation programme, offering partial amnesty to armed Islamic extremists from the civil war that blighted most of the 1990s.

He will not seek a fifth term, has postponed the 18 April elections and has promised a broad reshuffle of the government. It's been an unusual public outpouring for a country tightly controlled by the security services. He suffered a stroke in 2013 and has rarely appeared in public since.

This is a breaking news story, more details to come.

Bouteflika also failed to create an economy that could offer enough jobs for Algeria's growing youth population despite the nation's vast oil and gas wealth. Broad, nationwide protests are expected Friday.

"The students are resisting the extension of the fourth mandate", they chanted in a square outside the main post office of Algiers, a day after Bouteflika cancelled next month's presidential election.

However, in his letter, the President announced that a "national conference" would be tasked with planning the vote and would be drafting a new constitution for the country.

Brahimi, a former foreign minister and United Nations special envoy, is expected to chair the conference, the source told Reuters.

"To steer the transition, we have installed two establishment figures, who may have the interest of the state as a priority but embody everything except "change", concluded a disillusioned former political activist.

Born in the Moroccan city of Oujda to a family originally from the Algerian town of Tlemcen, west of Algiers.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Bouteflika's decision opened a new chapter and called for a "reasonable duration" to the transition period.

Many Algerians were concerned about his ailing health, and anxious that his death in office during a fifth term might cause risky political instability. Critics said they fear Bouteflika's crafty maneuver threatens democracy and could pave the way for the president to install a hand-picked successor.

"What's most important today is the Algerian street massively wants change", Mohsen-Finan added.

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