Algerians call for Bouteflika resignation despite poll delay

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Algerian protesters written in Arabic "no alternative than departure" during a protest against extending President Abdelaziz Bouteflika mandatin in Algiers, AlgeriaImage copyright

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Algerian protesters carrying banners written in Arabic “no alternative than departure”

Thousands of protesters have gathered in Algeria’s capital for a fourth consecutive Friday to demand the immediate resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

On Monday, the president postponed the 18 April presidential elections and dropped his bid for a fifth term.

Protesters, however, accuse the 82-year-old leader of illegally extending his term.

Students have been leading the anti-Bouteflika protests.

The ailing octogenarian rarely appears in public and has not given a public address since having a stroke in 2013. He returned to the country earlier this week after being admitted in hospital in Switzerland.

Half of Algeria’s population is under the age of 30 and youth unemployment has spurred anger against the government.

The appointment of new Prime Minister Noueddine Bedoui and plans to form an inclusive government have failed to assuage the protesters.

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Media captionAlgeria protests: What’s behind them?

They dismissed Mr Bedoui’s plan to form a technocratic government that would include young Algerians.

He said, in his first press conference on Thursday, that the new government would only be in charge for a short time and he urged the opposition to engage in a positive dialogue.

But activists have said they are not ready to compromise or negotiate for now.

President Bouteflika’s announcement on Monday that he was dropping his plan to run in elections that would extend his 20-year rule, was initially greeted by celebration but activists now see it as a ploy for the National Liberation Front to hold on to power.

Friday’s demonstrators have gathered at Algiers’ landmark Grand Poste square and have also been chanting against French President Emmanuel Macron who has called for a reasonable transition.

“Macron, go away” they chanted, while hoisting banners with the same slogan.

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The demonstrations have been led by young Algerians who say the government is out of touch

Talks have been set up to negotiate Algeria’s political future, which will be led by veteran UN diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi.

A conference, which does not yet have a set date, will aim to oversee the country’s political transition, draft a new constitution and set the date for elections.

Mr Brahimi, who was the United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria until 14 May 2014, met the president on Monday and said it was necessary to “turn this crisis into a constructive process”.

The Algerian military is expected to play an important role in the transition and is currently considering contenders for president, Reuters news agency reports.

Demonstrators and participants in Algeria’s 1954-1962 independence war will also be among the representatives at the conference.

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