Algerians Take to Streets Despite Bouteflika Concessions

Algerian President Abandons Bid for 5th Term Following Mass Nationwide Protests

"They're just 13-year-old kids". They are slated to submit a fresh constitution to the voters in voting, Al-Jazeera reported.

Many critics also accuse Bouteflika and what Algerians term "le Pouvoir" - referring to a shadowy clique of elites - for nurturing endemic corruption.

Making clear that his fourth term will continue, Monday's statement said: "I pledge finally, if God grants me life and assistance, to hand over the offices and prerogatives of the president of the republic to the successor that the Algerian people will freely elect".

After initial celebration, thousands of students along with some lecturers held a new protest in the capital Tuesday, accusing Bouteflika of "tricks". On Sunday, a general strike was announced, threatening to paralyse the country.

The New York Times quoted former communication minister Abdelaziz Rahabi's dire prognosis: "Bouteflika is not running, but he's going to remain as president beyond April 2019".

- 1963-79: Bouteflika is foreign minister under Ben Bella and the country's second president Houari Boumediene.

The announcement came amid mass protests against his nomination seeking a fifth term that was slated for April 18.

The US State Department said it supported Algeria's efforts to chart a new path forward.

Army Chief of Staff Ahmed Gaid Salah initially threatened the protesters, but made what was seen as a significant turnaround Sunday, saying "the people and the army share friendship, solidarity and a future vision for Algeria".

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Why have the protests continued?


Jessica Northey, a research fellow at Coventry University specialising in civil society and governance in Algeria, told The National that the issue of the term extension is only one aspect of the situation that is constitutionally questionable.

Bouteflika has managed to stay in power by pushing through constitutional amendments to keep extending term limits.

"I think Algeria has drawn lessons from what's happened elsewhere", she said, adding the population has no appetite for revisiting its bloody past. Of particular significance is the fate of Le Pouvoir - the shadowy group that includes his brother Said.

Celebratory honking of auto horns rang out in the city center, which was deserted by police after they had deployed in large numbers earlier in the day.

"The people have been asking to bring down the whole system - this is a small victory compared to what people are asking for", said Tin Hinane el-Kadi, a member of the protest movement Mouwatana.

Was Bouteflika's health a factor?

"This is not transition", Mr Hocine said. Nor has a departure date for Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who's still officially head of state.

But key to satisfying the protesters' demand will be a timetable for his departure.

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