Millions protest on Algerian streets demanding President Bouteflika’s resignation

Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah called for the application of Article 102 which could remove Bouteflika by declaring him unfit for office

Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah called for the application of Article 102 which could remove Bouteflika by declaring him unfit for office

On March 11, after weeks of demonstrations against his planned bid for a fifth term, Bouteflika abruptly postponed polls originally slated for April 18.

Security forces used a water cannon and lobbed tear gas against a crowd that broke through a blockaded street leading to the presidential palace - the only break in what have been massive but peaceful demonstrations.

The protest started peacefully but later pressurized military to stabilize the situation of the country.

A protester said, "We have only one word to say today, all the gang must go immediately, game over".

This week, the nation's top military commander, Ahmed Gaid Salah, called for the ailing president to be declared unfit to rule on health grounds and replaced him with the parliamentary chief in accordance with the constitution.

Police officers try to prevent protesters from advancing towards the government building during a protest to demand the removal of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers, Algeria on March 29, 2019.

And even if both sides dig in, no Algerian wants to risk returning to the dark days of the 1990s, when the army's cancellation of elections that Islamists were on the verge of winning triggered a civil war that killed 200,000 people.

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Bouteflika reportedly suffered stroke in 2013 and hardly makes public appearances.

Algeria has always been dominated by veterans of the 1954-1962 independence war against France, but many now see these as too old and out of touch. "You will sink!" protesters shouted.

The powerful military has stayed in the barracks throughout the unrest.

Saadia Belaid, a woman crying as she wore the flag of Algeria, said: "I cry because they kidnapped Algeria and the army's proposal is a real travesty".

However, Salah received backing from the main trade union and ruling FLN party, signalling Bouteflika's time was all and up.

Activists angrily rejected the moves as a desperate bid by key figures in Bouteflika's entourage to salvage their grip on power and demanded that they too quit. "We are determined to clean the country", said post office employee Noueddine Menar, 33.

Many held signs calling for the departure of army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, or referring to Article 102 of the constitution, which General Gaid Salah proposed using to pave the way for Mr. Bouteflika's ouster.

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