At least 2,000 protest Algerian president in France


Paris (AFP)

At least 2,000 demonstrators Sunday gathered in Paris and other French cities to protest Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid to stand for a fifth term in office.

The demonstrations coincide with large-scale rallies in Algeria to denounce the ailing president's bid to hang on to power.

Bouteflika, 82, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, flew to Switzerland a week ago for what his office described as "routine medical checks".

An AFP journalist said hundreds of demonstrators from Algeria's large diaspora were gathered in the Place de la Republique, in central Paris, as they waved their national flag, many shouting, "out, out".

"No to the mandate of shame, 20 years is enough," proclaimed one placard speaking to Bouteflika's intention of standing in the April 18 elections after 20 years in power.

Since gaining independence from France in 1962, "Algeria has been run by the same group of men, the same system," 62-year-old Abderrahmane Hamirouche told AFP.

"Algeria is ruined while it's a country that potentially could be rich. What is there left for future generations?" the IT specialist asked.

Nadia Tamzali, a 62-year-old Franco-Algerian doctor, criticised the country's lack of free speech and dominance by the military.

"They have killed our culture -- nearly all the cinemas have disappeared," she said.

In the southern port city of Marseille, home to large numbers of Algerian immigrants, about 1,000 turned out, many wearing the Algerian flag over their shoulders, an AFP journalist reported.

In the southwestern city of Toulouse, about 100 people carrying placards saying "No to a fifth term" gathered in the centre of town.

"We want the 40 thieves to go. They have gone too far," said a 54-year-old Algerian who gave his name as Asri.

"We aren't opposed to the president, but he is unconscious, he doesn't exist anymore, his generals and those close to him are doing what they will behind his back," said Asri, who has lived in France for 31 years.