BEIRUT

Middle East

Protesters attack Algerian president’s campaign

  • Tunisia based supporters of current Algerian president and candidate in the forthcoming presidential election Abdelaziz Bouteflika hold placards during a rally in Tunis April 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi)

ALGIERS: Demonstrators threw stones at the Algerian prime minister’s motorcade during an election campaign event Wednesday, in the latest protests against the incumbent president’s expected re-election.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika is widely predicted to win the April 17 presidential election, despite suffering a stroke that left him unable to walk or campaign.

Bouteflika’s campaign is instead being led by Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and other top government officials, several of whom have been targeted by protests.

Journalists at the scene in the in a southern town of Metlili said protesters first heckled Sellal during his speech and then pelted his motorcade with stones, before being driven back by police with tear gas.

The town is in the province of Ghardaia, where Arab-Berber riots have killed seven people in recent months. Some 40 people were wounded in clashes there Monday.

Protesters in the city of Bejaia Saturday burned down the venue for another of Sellal’s campaign speeches and clashed with police, resulting in 15 people being wounded.

Thousands of students staged a peaceful protest against Bouteflika in the same town Tuesday.

The protesters oppose a fourth term for the ailing 77-year-old Bouteflika, who has run the country since 1999 and changed the constitution in 2008 to enable him to serve further terms.

Dozens of young men chanted “enough” outside the venue of a pro-Bouteflika rally in the city of Batna Wednesday, but were dispersed by police.

Many of the protesters claim allegiance to the Barakat – “enough” – movement opposing Bouteflika’s grip on power, but their demonstrations have largely been small and scattered.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 10, 2014, on page 9.
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Summary

Demonstrators threw stones at the Algerian prime minister's motorcade during an election campaign event Wednesday, in the latest protests against the incumbent president's expected re-election.

Bouteflika's campaign is instead being led by Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and other top government officials, several of whom have been targeted by protests.

Protesters in the city of Bejaia Saturday burned down the venue for another of Sellal's campaign speeches and clashed with police, resulting in 15 people being wounded.


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