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Algerians in Paris protest Bouteflika’s fifth presidential bid

Stephane de Sakutin, AFP | A protester holds up the Algerian flag during a rally against the Algerian president's bid for a fifth term in office on February 24, 2019 at the Place de la République in Paris.

Thousands gathered in the heart of the French capital on Sunday to protest against ailing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in office.

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An all-ages crowd -- some born in France, others across the Mediterranean --  assembled on the Place de la République in Paris with protestors chanting slogans like, “Go away” and “No pardon”.

“No to the mandate of shame, 20 years is enough,” one demonstrator’s placard read.

“We want to also do our part [for] this movement, share, participate in this movement, and also express our wish for the end of this regime and for a democratic Algeria,” protest organiser Farid Yaker told FRANCE 24’s Sandro Lutyens in the square.

'We have massive support here in Paris,' Bouteflika protest organiser Farid Yaker tells France 24

Police said some 6,000 people demonstrated in Paris, while organisers estimated the rally drew around 10,000.

The rally came ahead of the March 3 midnight deadline for candidates to file their applications for the April 18 Algerian presidential election. Hundreds of thousands of protesters across Algeria took to the streets on Friday in an exceptional popular challenge to the country's secretive leadership.

Opponents say Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke in 2013 and has been seen in public only a few times since, is no longer fit to lead the North African country. He is currently undergoing medical checks in Switzerland.

The mass protests in Algeria have triggered a show of solidarity in France, which has a large Algerian population. A first Parisian rally against the country’s long-term leader took place on February 24.

On Saturday, a rally organised by Bouteflika supporters in central Paris drew only about thirty people.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

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