Hundreds of students took to the streets of Algiers, the capital city, yesterday to denounce President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term as his campaign manager arrived at the constitutional council in Algiers responsible for collecting the papers of candidates for the April 18 presidential election
Abdelghani Zaalane did not speak to reporters as he went into the building. About 10 vans transported Bouteflika’s documents to the Constitutional Council, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. Meanwhile, in a televised comment after submitting Bouteflika’s official election papers, Zaalane said the president will call for elections within one year to replace him if is re-elected in elections.
In another development, Abdelwahab Derbal, the head of the election commission said yesterday that all candidates in the presidential election must submit their candidacy papers in person,
If applied, this would mean Bouteflika, 82, must present himself to the Constitutional Council. He has only rarely appeared in public since 2013.
Elevated security measures were in place in the city and especially around the Constitutional Council. Yesterday was the deadline for candidates to to file their documents. Images of students marching and chanting anti-government slogans appeared on social media.
Bouteflika, who turned 82 at the weekend, underwent medical checks in Switzerland last week. Neither the government nor news media reported if he was back in Algeria. In France, hundreds of people from the European country’s Algerian community also rallied yesterday in Paris and in the southern city of Marseille to oppose Bouteflika remaining in office.
Bouteflika’s major opponent during the 2004 and 2014 presidential elections, former Prime Minister Ali Benflis, announced yesterday that he would not challenge the incumbent this year.
Benflis said central committee of his party, Talaie El Houriat, Arabic for “Vanguard of Freedoms”), decided not to field a candidate so as “not to serve as a pretext for the candidacy of the sick president.” The head of the moderate Islamist party MSP, Abderrazak Makri, also has ruled out running.