By Chris Zumani Zimba
The demo and mob speak on the streets
When embattled, ill and 82 year old Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika declared his candidacy for next April’s election to mark his 5th term through his campaign manager, Abdelghani Zaalane on national television three weeks ago, the Algerian people immediately took to the street to protest his intentions.
The announcement from a leader who suffered a stroke in 2013 and has rarely been seen in public since then prompted continuous discontent in the North African country with last weekend witnessing one of its largest and most impassioned displays of public dissent since the war of independence from France ended in 1962. It is widely believed that the President, who was first elected in 1999, is largely incapacitated, and has left the reins of the country in the hands of a military and civilian elite in recent years.
Judges, army, politicians and cleric join the demo
Pressure mounted on Mr Bouteflika to withdraw when more than 1,000 judges said on Monday they would refuse to oversee the planned general election were he a candidate.
Then the military’s chief of staff, Lt Gen Gaed Salah, said the military and the people had a united vision of the future – the strongest indication so far that the armed forces were sympathetic to the protests.
Top clerics had already criticised pressure on them to issue pro-government sermons. “Leave us to do our job, don’t interfere,” cleric Imam Djamel Ghoul, leader of an independent group of clerics, told journalists.
Meanwhile, Algeria’s Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia announced his resignation and was replaced by Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui, who has been tasked with forming a new government, the official APS news agency reported.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika denounce his 5th term bid
“There will be no fifth term,” Mr Bouteflika was quoted as saying in a statement. “There was never any question of it for me. Given my state of health and age, my last duty towards the Algerian people was always contributing to the foundation of a new Republic,” an official statement from his office and in his name on Monday read in full. This has immediately changed the political tension that had rocked Algeria and there is a sense of mob celebrations instead of anger.
No new date for the election was set. A cabinet reshuffle will happen soon, a statement in Mr Bouteflika’s name said. There was no suggestion in the announcement that the president intends to step down before a rescheduled election.
Chris Zumani Zimba is a prolific Political Scientist, Analyst, Author, Blogger, PhD Scholar, Researcher, Consultant, Public Health and Tobacco Control Advocate. Besides being the CEO and Managing Consultant at Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU) in Zambia, he analyses African politics weekly on Voice of the Cape Radio, South Africa every Wednesday at 16:20hours CAT. So far, he has authored more than 10 political and academic books as well as published over 100 well researched articles. Sometimes, he lectures Political Science-Part Time with University of Zambia (UNZA) and University of Lusaka (UNILUS) outside his usual commitments. Chriszumanizimba.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; +260 973 153 815