Algeria barristers join strike against Bouteflika re-election

Algerian president back home amid mass protests against him

Several FLN parliamentarians resigned on Friday to join the protest movement. Kader Abderrahim, a Paris-based expert on the politics of Algeria and the region, told France Culture radio that if in 1962 Algeria had experienced independence, history would remember that in 2019 the country had found its freedom.

Algerian officials had said days ago that Bouteflika was expected to return shortly.

French policymakers remain concerned about the risk of political instability in the energy-rich country, which has seen more than two weeks of peaceful demonstrations against Bouteflika.

- 2004: Re-elected for a second term.

In September, Bouteflika's convoy is the target of a suicide attack and in December two other attacks, also claimed by AQIM, target United Nations offices and the Constitutional Council.

He was elected for a fourth term in April 2014 with 81.5 percent of the vote, despite not campaigning.

- January 2011: Food riots erupt amid the regional upheaval of the Arab Spring and five people are killed and more than 800 injured.

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Said Bouteflika, 61, a brother of the president and top aide, is said to hold enormous influence in the presidential apparatus.

Bouteflika, who rarely has been seen in public since he suffered a stroke in 2013, arrived at a military airport near Boufarik, about 20 miles south of Algiers, and was shown by private television station Ennahar in a fast-moving convoy heading toward the suburb of Zeralda where he lives. His last public address was in 2014, shortly after winning the previous general election.

There is widespread resentment at the perceived incompetence and corruption of the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN), the party that has been in power for more than 50 years. Its chief, the powerful Mohamed Mediene, had been already been fired months earlier. Bouteflika's critics question whether it is legal to unilaterally declare the postponement of national elections would be postponed - and they're now left to wonder what will happen when the president's current term expires on April 28.

Since then, for a third consecutive week, thousands of Algerians in different parts of the country took to the streets to protest Bouteflika's bid.

Demonstrators who took to the streets en masse against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's rule reacted in jubilation to his withdrawal from elections but said he now must step down.

An Algerian youth waves a national flag as he sits atop a vehicle during a demonstration in the centre of the capital Algiers on March 11, 2019, after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his withdrawal.

State Department spokesman Robert Palladino did not directly address Bouteflika's decision, simply saying: "We're closely monitoring reports that Algeria's elections have been postponed".

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