Bouteflika statement urges vigilance against 'chaos' amid Algeria protests
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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika warned Thursday of the risk of "chaos", on the eve of a major planned protest against his bid for a fifth term in office.
The ailing 82-year-old Algerian leader, who has been in Switzerland since late February for medical reasons, said in a message released by the official APS news agency that demonstrations could be infiltrated by foreign or domestic groups to provoke turmoil.
"Breaking this peaceful expression by any treacherous internal or foreign group may lead to sedition and chaos and resulting crises and woes," said the statement.
The statement came amid unprecedented protests that have seen tens of thousands of people take to the streets in the North African nation demanding the octogenarian president's resignation.
Army chief slams those who want to 'return to civil war years'
On Tuesday, Algeria's army chief, who is close to Bouteflika and considered one of the country's most powerful figures, pledged to guarantee the "security and stability" of the nation.
General Ahmed Gaid Salah also criticised those who he said want to return to the "painful years" of the 1992-2002 civil war "during which the Algerian people experienced all forms of suffering and paid a heavy price."
The armed forces chief of staff said in a speech at a military academy outside Algiers that the country's success "in eradicating terrorism... has displeased some parties who are upset to see Algeria stable and safe."
The army chief, who is deputy defence minister, urged Algerians to be ready to "erect a rampart against anything that could expose Algeria to unpredictable threats".
Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in public, has promised that if he wins the April 18 presidential election, he will organise a "national conference" to set a date for further polls which he would not contest.
His pledge, made in a letter read out on state television, has been dismissed as an insult by Algerians weary of his two-decade-old rule.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
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