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Algerian police break up anti-government protest


Algerian police used clubs to break up a small demonstration Saturday by Algerians opposed to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to run for a fourth term in elections next month.


Around a hundred people waving signs reading “No to a fourth term” and “No to the humiliation of Algeria” were prevented from gathering in front of a university in the capital by police, one of the organizers, Hakim Raissi, told The Associated Press.

Bouteflika, 76, has not appeared in public for two years and is visibly weaker since suffering a stroke last year. Even so, he is expected to win the election with the backing of the powerful state apparatus and the military.

Several opposition parties have already called for a boycott of the election, saying its results would be a foregone conclusion.

On Thursday, one of Algeria’s most prominent reformist politicians, Mouloud Hamrouche, said he will not be running for president, complaining that the election is meaningless.

“Our country is at a political impasse which no man can resolve alone,” he said. “The re-election of Bouteflika will only exacerbate the crisis in Algeria.”

Hamrouche was prime minister from 1989 to 1991 and was celebrated for his political reforms. The refusal of such a prominent politician to take part can be seen as a blow to the elections’ credibility. While Algeria regularly holds elections, real power is widely believed to be in the hands of certain politicians and military leaders.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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