More than 60 people are reported to have been injured in police and demonstrator clashes in Algeria. Friday’s demonstrations against the country’s president – arranged in several parts of the country – are the largest since the so-called Arab spring eight years ago.
The protesters in the capital Alger chanted “farewell, Bouteflika”, directed at the president who, in violation of the constitution, is setting up a fifth term. The protests grew rapidly, and within an hour they had gathered tens of thousands of people, old and young, who marched towards the Place de la Grande Poste gathering place.
Initially, the protests were peaceful, but later in the day both police and protesters were injured, including in connection with stone throwing. According to the police, a total of 56 police officers and 7 protesters were injured. 45 people were arrested.
Late in the evening, information came that at least one person lost their lives when people fled. According to some data, it was a man who had a heart attack in the panic. TV pictures show violent street scenes.
“20 years is enough”
81-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power for 20 years, has only appeared publicly on a few occasions after a stroke in 2013. According to the President’s opponents, there is nothing to suggest that he is capable of leading the country.
“Look at the young people in Algeria – all they ask is a capable president who can speak to the people,” said 45-year-old demonstrator Hamdane Salim.
- 20 years is enough, another protester commented.
Falling oil prices have in recent years worsened Algeria’s economy. After the protests during the Arab Spring 2011, the authorities were able to expand the welfare state to meet the popular discontent. It’s harder now.