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FLN turns on Bouteflika as new protests mount: he is 'history'

2019/03/15 | 18:45

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- Thousands of protesters gathered in the Algerian capital on

Friday demanding that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika step down, keeping up

pressure after the ruling FLN party showed more signs of turning its back on

him, Reuters reported.Bouteflika on Monday reversed a decision to stand for

another term after mass protests against his rule, but stopped short of

relinquishing office and says he will stay on until a new constitution is

adopted.He has been losing allies in recent days since returning

from medical treatment in Switzerland.A senior FLN figure said in an interview on Thursday night

the long-ruling president was “history now”.The remarks by Hocine Kheldoun to Ennahar television were

another setback Bouteflika, who hoped to pacify Algerians by promising to take

steps to change a political landscape that has been dominated by a ruling elite

for decades.Kheldoun, a former ruling party spokesman, became one of the

most senior FLN officials to break with Bouteflika publicly, saying the party

had to look forward and support the aims of demonstrators protesting against

Bouteflika.“Those who think we are tired are wrong. Our protests will

not stop,” said doctor Madjid Benzida, 37, amid a heavy police presence across

the capital.Some parents had brought children: “I want a better future,”

said Mohamed Kemime, 10, draped in a national flag.Tens of thousands of Algerians have staged peaceful protests

for weeks, seeking a new era with younger leaders who would offer greater

social freedoms and prosperity.“Bouteflika and his men must go as soon as possible,” said

student Yazid Ammari, 23.One of Algeria’s most influential clerics appealed for

patience.  “Let’s be optimistic, Algeria needs to overcome its crisis,”

said Mohamed Abdelkader Haider from an Algiers mosque.Bouteflika, 82, has been in office for 20 years but has

rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. Protesters say he

is no longer in a fit state to rule.New Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui said on Thursday he

would form a temporary government of technocrats and others to work toward

political change, and he urged the opposition to join in a dialogue.“GAME OVER”A former minister who is familiar with Bouteflika’s inner

circle told Reuters that the president could not survive given the pressure

building against him.“Game over. Bouteflika has no choice but to quit now,” the

former minister said on condition of anonymity.Algeria is a major oil and gas producer, but so far exports

have not suffered from the unrest. Its biggest oil field Hassi Messaoud and its

Hassi Rmel gas field have not been affected, a source from state oil giant

Sonatrach told Reuters.Many Algerians say that the ailing president and other

veterans of the 1954-1962 war of independence against France should hand over

power to young technocrats who can focus on unemployment, poor services and

stamping out corruption.The military, which has traditionally played a

behind-the-scenes power broker role, has distanced itself from Bouteflika and

stayed in its barracks throughout the crisis. It is expected to retain

influence under all scenarios.Algeria was relatively untouched when the 2011 Arab Spring

uprisings swept away veteran autocrats in the Arab world. Bouteflika and his

allies, effective manipulators of the opposition, managed to avoid major unrest

by spending oil money on the population, handing out low interest loans and

housing.Bouteflika helped to defeat a civil war against Islamist

insurgents in which tens of thousands of people were killed in the 1990s, and

many Algerians long accepted heavy-handed rule as the price of stability.But the public has lost patience with deteriorating economic

conditions and the FLN’s failure to make the transition to a new generation

despite the president’s failing health.











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