Algerian teachers, students protest against Bouteflika


Algiers (AFP)

Hundreds of school teachers and students protested in the Algerian capital on Wednesday amid fears that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika plans to extend his two-decade rule.

In a surprise announcement Monday, the ailing 82-year-old said he would not stand for a fifth term -- but also cancelled next month's presidential election.

After initial celebration following Bouteflika's announcement, protesters returned to the streets of the capital Tuesday, accusing the 82-year-old of "tricks".

On Wednesday, an AFP correspondent saw middle and high school teachers protesting alongside their students in central Algiers.

"It's important that we teachers mobilise," said Driss, a teacher at a high school in the Algerian capital. "It's about the future of our children."

The protesters carried signs saying: "No to the extension of a fourth term!"

Schools in Algeria have been hit by a partial strike in recent days as protests have repeatedly rocked the capital and other major cities.

University students have been at the forefront of the movement, in a country where half the population is under the age of 30 and many have never known any president other than Bouteflika.

The veteran leader's promise of a "national conference" to carry out reforms and set a date for new elections "before the end of 2019" suggested he may stay in office for another year.