Thousands in France Protest Bouteflika’s Fifth Term Bid as Algerian President

Thousands of people marched in Paris and other French cities Sunday to protest Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid to stand for a fifth term in office.

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

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

Organisers said 10,000 demonstrators from Algeria’s large diaspora gathered in the Place de la Republique, in central Paris.

Organisers said about 1,000 turned out in the Mediterranean port of Marseille in the south, and a few hundred in the southwest city of Toulouse.

Although Bouteflika has been increasingly frail since suffering a stroke in 2013, he was re-elected for his fourth term in 2014.

Elections for a new president are due to take place on April 18.

“No to the mandate of shame, 20 years is enough,” proclaimed one placard in Paris, referring to Bouteflika’s intention to stand in the April 18 elections after 20 years in power.

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.

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

Algeria, a former French colony, won independence in 1962.

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