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Anti-Bouteflika strikes shut down Algeria's capital

Ryad Kramdi, AFP | Algerian students shout slogans as they demonstrate with national flags outside the Main Post Office in the centre of the capital Algiers on March 10, 2019 against ailing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term.

Striking train workers and students shut the Algerian capital’s rail network and most of the country’s secondary schools Sunday, in protest against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s fifth term bid, witnesses said.

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No trains, metros, trams or buses left or circulated within Algiers, employees of the companies running those networks told AFP.

Several hundred high school students gathered peacefully in central Algiers while others marched in cities elsewhere.

The latest protests came as Bouteflika made a secretive return to Algeria after receiving treatment at a Swiss hospital for two weeks, according to the Algerian presidency.

Bouteflika, 82, has been in power since 1999 but suffered a stroke in 2013, and his rare public appearances since have been in a wheelchair.

Algeria protesters 'want to get rid of the whole system'

His announcement on February 10 that he will run again in April elections has provoked weeks of protests, with tens of thousands taking to the streets after weekly prayers on consecutive Fridays.

City closed

Most shops in the capital’s commercial centre were closed on Sunday, an AFP journalist said.

Residents said shops were also closed in the poor district of Bab el Oued and in the suburb of Zeralda, but they were open in other areas.

A local journalist said half of businesses were closed in Constantine, Algeria’s third city, adding that high schools students had taken to the streets there.

“Everything is closed” in the city of Bejaia in the Kabylie region, Achour Idir, a trade unionist in the education sector, told AFP.

He said the city was in “total paralysis” due to high schools, colleges, government offices and businesses closing.

Local news site TSA said strikes by agri-industry workers had brought sugar and oil production “to a halt” at the privately-owned Cevital firm, and also hit several sectors at state-owned oil giant Sonatrach.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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