As Protests Intensify In Algeria, New Opposition Group Demands Bouteflika Step Down
The National Coordination for Change, a new Algerian group comprising political leaders and activists, has called on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down when his term ends on April 28, and urged the military not to interfere in the electoral process. Bouteflika weeks ago sparked mass protests against his 20-year rule by announcing his intention to run for a fifth term in office, despite rarely being seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. The resulting unrest, which peaked Friday as hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in the capital Algiers, ultimately prompted Bouteflika to postpone the scheduled April 18 elections and withdraw his candidacy. However, the longtime ruler confirmed this week his intention to remain in power until a “national conference” determines the date of a future vote, which might first be preceded by a referendum on proposed constitutional amendments. Previously, the Algerian army’s chief of staff expressed support for the public’s vision of the future, although Bouteflika’s latest maneuvering suggests he has retained the backing—for now—of the most powerful institution in the country.